Children’s choir struggles with costly transport

The Junior Rosa Choir urgently needs help to raise funds for transport.

Children belonging to the Junior Rosa Choir are battling to get their voices heard because the high cost of transport makes it hard for them to come together for practice.

Aged from 10 to 14, the 40-odd youngsters in the choir hail from all over the city, including Manenberg, Langa, Kalksteenfontein, Gugulethu, Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu.

Every Saturday morning, they are collected at various points and taken to choir practice at various venues around the city.

The choir was started by the Cape Cultural Collective in 2016, and it is supported by the Imam Haroon Foundation, the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies, Denis Goldberg House of Hope, and others.

In Hout Bay, the youngsters form part of the choir through the Denis Goldberg House of Hope, an arts development centre inspired by the late Rivonia triallist who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 along with Nelson Mandela and others.

“One of our biggest needs to ensure the sustainability of the project is transport,” said Debbie Budlender, manager for the Denis Goldberg Legacy Foundation Trust. “The junior Rosa Choir would simply die without a comprehensive transport network. Great care is taken to ensure the children are transported to and from their homes each week for choir practice, as well as on various outings.”

Transportation was expensive and made up half of the choir’s annual costs, she added.

For a few hours every week, Ms Budlender said, the children could relax and sing together in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa under the guidance of a qualified music teacher.

“The excitement and the energy are palpable,” she said.

The choir members have gone for a long stretch without being able to sing together because of Covid-19 restrictions, but this year they started meeting again for weekly practice.

“However, the regular meetings mean that the transport challenge has again become serious,“ Ms Budlender said.

A BackaBuddy campaign has so far raised R10 000, but Ms Budlender said they needed R30 000.

She said the children’s confidence and self-esteem grew visibly. “Singing together breaks down cultural, language and spatial divisions. Music improves their learning abilities and promotes harmony among the singers. They also participate in performances, an annual concert and a summer camp.”

If funds allow, there are plans to hold a junior-choir camp at the end of the year as well as educational excursions. In the past, the children have attended ballet performances at Artscape, but Ms Budlender said: “All these activities imply transport costs.”

One of those choir members in need of help is Akho Matiwane, from Imizamo Yethu.

“I love the Rosa Choir because I started loving singing, and I get to sing a lot of different songs, and I also get to make new friends,” she said.

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