Painting a brighter picture for at-risk youth

The Lalela Project is unlocking children’s imaginations to give them a shot at a better life.

A Hout Bay non-profit organisation is offering children from disadvantaged communities a brighter future by unlocking their artistic talents.

The Lalela Project provides art education for youth at risk in Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg to spark their creativity and awaken their entrepreneurial spirit and counter the pull of crime and substance abuse.

“We ignite imagination and teach children how to map and manifest their dreams and goals, launching the possibility of a different future for themselves and their communities,” says Leigh Robertson, the organisation’s executive director.

Starting with children from the age of 6 they offer the after-school art training all the way up to matric, connecting the arts to all aspects of the child’s life from academics to critical life skills, she says.

“Our role in arts education is to help blaze the trail in whole-brain thinking with a proven path to innovation and new job creation. Our programmes create permanent change with positive outlooks, community role models and the mindset for our students to design a more certain future for themselves and their communities.”

Aphendule Sixishe, a Lalela Project graduate from Hout Bay High earned five matric distinctions and was the top matriculant at his school. The top three matriculants in his class were also all Lalela Project pupils.

“They give you the space that you need to open up, spread your wings, and fly,” he says

Gladstone Matshaya, another graduate from Hout Bay High, was scoring a 62% average but after joining the Lalela Project, he improved his results enough for a university pass to study criminal law.

“My plan forward was always to go to university and study law and become an advocate.”

Mohamed Nathier Samuels, from Hangberg, says the Lalela Project has offered him new opportunities.

“There is lots of hidden talent in this place, but you just must not connect with the wrong people,” he says. “My passion is drawing, so, in the next few years, I would like to see myself as a graphic designer doing cartoons.”

Call 021 790 1108 or visit to find out more about the Lalela Project.

Some of the paintings created by the pupils at the Lalela Project.