By Bianca Silva
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Social Development (CSD). Dani Marais, student volunteer co-ordinator, explained the role of the CSD and goals the upcoming project for 2007.
The Centre for Social Development is an institute of Rhodes University and consists of three main streams: Rhodes University Community Engagement, Early Childhood Development (ECD) and the Student Volunteer Programme.
Marais explained that the Rhodes community engagement stream uses accumulated research to engage with communities around the Eastern Cape. The ECD focuses on going into the community to assess and aid early childhood needs. Marais related Hillary Clinton’s speech based on the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” to explain the some of the aims of the ECD. The CSD also tackles other specific projects at the request of the community, which they try to encourage students to get involved with.
“The Student Volunteer Programme is a quick and easy way for students to get involved,” said Marais. It encourages students to commit one hour a week to apply their skills to get involved and engage with the community. Students can use whatever skills they have to help the community to grow, explained Marais, from helping primary school children, teaching etiquette courses to painting facilities or teaching a sport. There are 230 placements in the programme but over 300 students volunteer. “As a student you have the time to fit it into your schedule” said Marais. Sign up will continue during this week and again during the second semester.
Marais explained that during the second semester the CSD is going to introduce a high school tutoring intervention at grade 11 and grade 12 levels in the Grahamstown East schools. “We are very excited about the possibilities there” said Marais. “Students are encouraged to get involved in this”
“I think so often people think volunteering is only about the community, but they are a part of the community. By developing the community, we develop ourselves” said Marais and she explained that “when we engage with the community, you engage with your own life.”