Joanie Fredericks, of Tafelsig, is all about empowering youth to rise above their circumstances to do things for themselves.
Ms Fredericks is known in her community as Aunty Tony.
“I’ve given up trying to find out why?” she said of the nickname. “I actually like it now.”
And to the community Aunty Tony is known as the go-to woman for dispensing solid advice. Be it about health concerns, legal entanglements or marital advice, Aunty Tony would know where to refer them.
For this reason Ms Fredericks started Nead (Now Empowering Achievable Dreams) by consolidating her decades-long career of social development into a non-profit organisation that can uplift her own community. Ms Fredericks has lived in Tafelsig for 16 years.
“I wanted to focus on fixing the brokenness of my own community,” she said. “As a community worker this is where I should put my attention.”
About a year ago, Ms Fredericks called on her wide network of contacts and with the help of her friends Mogamat Titus and Bathemba Kokase they started the organisation. Nead’s main aim is to uproot the “entitlement mentality” and teach people about their human rights.
“I had enough of people complaining that not enough was done,” Ms Fredericks said. “If you go out, you’ll see people sitting on the pavement but when the word spreads that there’s a food queue – everybody runs with a bowl and a fork,” Ms Fredericks said, referring to food drives that visit the area.
“It got to me that people are sitting and not doing anything for themselves. I want to get rid of the entitlement mentality and encourage people to do things for themselves.”
She intends doing this using the existing skills and talents already within the area, so one of Nead’s first projects was a dance programme.
The initiative for the dance classes came from the youth, so Ms Fredericks used it as a platform for other projects, such as the homework assist programme and workshops on entrepreneurship.
“There must be a will,” Ms Fredericks explains, saying that the children are motivated and committed because the idea was their own. She hopes the programme will successfully culminate into a dance academy.
“We want to build a fully-fledged dance school, aimed at creating a space where people can become self sustainable – if not becoming a professional dancer, at least to work as a dance coach. We’re tired of sending children away to the resources. Why can’t the resources come to them?”
But first, they need a coach: “Someone who can give the children some proper dance training, for at least three months,” she says, explaining that dance coaches are for the most part too busy to stay long.
“There is a lot of talent in this place and a lot of talent left this place, saying, ‘one day when I make it I will come back’ but there’s nothing to come back to. When people ask where you are from it is always a sin to say ‘Tafelsig’. We want to say proudly: ‘From Tafelsig’.”
Creating this pride starts with teaching people about their rights, that’s why Ms Fredericks plans on hosting workshops about the constitution.
“If you look at issues that people deal with, like getting pink letters or having their water completely disconnected, these rights are in the constitution. How do you give a right to somebody without teaching the person that these are your rights and this is how you can access them? Once people understand the constitution they will know what to do about their problems.”
However, before any of these goals can become achievable the organisation would need to become sustainable so they will be hosting a modelling show fundraiser on Saturday April 9 and to make it happen Nead will be using the talents of the community to make the clothes, model and provide the entertainment.
For details, or for tickets, call Ms Fredericks on 076 621 0245 or 061 058 7245.