Don’t let it stop at the end of the fishing lesson though!

From the BottomUp

In two weeks time, about 15 learners from schools in the Greater Grassy Park area, are going to be presenting 7 to 10 minute speeches at the second ever Speak Up Festival.

My favourite non-profit organisation, BottomUp, has been working with a number of students from Zeekoevlei, Fairmount and Lotus High to help get them ready for the event taking place on the 7th September.

What i absolutely love about the work of BottomUp though is the height and depth to which they encourage their young people to reach.

aiming high with fishing kids

Ask Better Questions

Lao Tsu had it right, to some extent, when he advocated for more than simply handouts.

A handout is helpful until it runs out and then the person is left in the same position they started in.

But when you teach them a skill, they will be able to continue on reproducing and you will not be needed to continue to help them.

But one of the things we learned when we were in America was that there are still a whole lot more questions that need to be asked. 

When i started volunteering with BottomUp i saw that these are the kinds of questions they constantly encourage their students to be asking.

Back to the Fish scenario, some other questions we might engage are:

  • How much does a fishing licence cost and why is it so expensive?
  • Who put up all the fences around the fishing ponds
  • Who has been polluting all the rivers and lakes where we catch the fish?

Once we step back a little and start to see the systems and structures that are in place, we realise that sometimes even having the fishing lessons is not enough because there are a lot of other obstacles in our path between us and getting a healthy and affordable and sustainable fish meal.

BottomUp Speak Up

Speak Up: 2019

Which is why i cannot wait to hear the speeches at this year’s Speak Up Festival where the theme is Recognise – Analyse – Reimagine.

There is the encouragement to look around, both at the present and the past, to try and identify an issue that is relevant to the learner’s personal story but also their family, school or community. #Recognise

Then the urging to go a little deeper with an eye on systems and structures that are or have been in place which are informing or supporting those very things. #Analyse

Finally, there is space to start dreaming about the possibilities of what might be and how might we start telling and living out new stories to help us to get to those newly envisioned places? #Reimagine

The work of BottomUp in these schools is so vital, and i personally believe some of the very best work happening in any schools across the country because of the Critical Literacy lens with which they encourage their participants to view the world.

Come to the Festival

If you have not yet booked your ticket to the Festival, please do that right now, or tag your Cape Town friends and get them to come and support us. i want to see the Nassau Centre at Groote Schuur completely jam-packed on the 7th so that these young people can be encouraged and cheered on for the speeches they are going to drop.

But also if you are a funder [or even a small-time person like me who gives a small amount every month] or someone who would like to get involved in volunteering in one of their programs, get hold of BottomUp on and join the revolution.