Quinette Abegail Louw

Sihlalo Promise

What does your company do?

Sihlalo Promise teaches children aged 8-15 years from very disadvantaged families in urban townships to play African music on traditional African instruments (marimba, drums, mbira, kora, nyatiti). This gives the children insights into their cultural heritage and traditional African rhythms and songs that they do not get from any other source. Up to 25 children from Phillipi, Salt River, Parow and Woodstock currently attend weekly classes at Sihlalo during term time. This program has been running consistently since 2021. The children are taught in the traditional aural manner. Learning to play traditional African music not only gives them rare musical performance skills that are building their capacity, confidence and leadership, but it also gives them potential employment. None of their parents can afford to fund their children's attendance at class, so Sihlalo Promise funds the entire program from donations and fund-raising. This includes the teaching space, the instruments, the teacher, the transport and the food for mid-morning snacks. The children always arrive hungry, and for many of them this is their only meal of the day).

What is your biggest success?

My greatest achievement has been to give these very disadvantaged children hope for making a better future for themselves. The children come from socially-disadvantaged locations in Cape Town where they are faced daily with violence at home, and on the street. They live in poverty, transport in and out of the locations is unreliable and expensive, and they have poor nutrition, limited educational opportunities and low self-esteem. Their parents have so little vision for a better future for themselves and their children, and without interventions like this music program, the children will be trapped in the poverty cycle. Attending the Sihlalo Promise program gives them a means to change their future.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

The biggest hurdle (and the biggest cost) is reliable transport. We know that we could provide music learning opportunities for at least another 75-80 children every week if we could transport them safely to and from Sihlalo premises in Salt River. It costs at least R55 per child per return trip on public transport. Transporting children in and out of any urban township in Cape Town is dangerous and problematic, because of gang territories and violence, unsafe and overcrowded public taxis, lack of skill and unreliability of drivers, and cost. If we had money to engage reliable drivers coming from the locations, who could bring groups of children in and out to music training, the program could reach so many more families. We could establish a beginners program for 6-8 year olds, a developmental program for older beginners, and continue with our current advanced program.