"Big Things Begin Little"

Chantel Daniels, South Africa, traducción española R. Gomez
31 December 2007

The ICV Desk in South Africa joined ICV's Community Language Project, which has been developed in Spain, France and Switzerland, around langugage and integration issues for migrants. In South Africa, the project has taken a community dimension, working with pre-school children from disadvantaged backgrounds, offering them an opening to languages other than those spoken in the community.

Since 2006, the Volunteer Center in Cape Town is hosting an ICV Desk. The stimulating relationship between the Volunteer Centre in Cape Town and ICVolunteers has allowed these two organisations to strengthen their presence in the field and through their efforts benefit the communities which they service. One of the key projects the ICV Desk is currently working on is the Community Language Project "Big Things Begin Little", working with the community to develop adapted language services.

Social interpreters and translators respond to a growing social need in modern multi-cultural societies, their role, being of vital importance if access to essential public services is not to be restricted or conditioned by linguistic or cultural barriers. This crucial theme was analysed in depth during a workshop held in Geneva in 19 September 2007 to facilitate exchanges between ICV national offices working on Community Language Projects and other associations actively engaged in this work field.

The project "Big Things Begin Little" was conceived at the Community Language workshop in Geneva and following the exchange with the youth group of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. It is an exciting initiative specifically designed for the future world-changers in South Africa. The main objective of this project is to teach a new language to children between the ages of 5 to 6 years and liberate them from being stereotyped as being isolated. Two areas, Ocean View and Mitchell's Plain were chosen as the first areas where this project is to be piloted.

When approached by Chantel Daniels, Coordinator of the ICV Desk and the "Big Things Begin Little" project, Ms Warries, Principal of the Ocean View Scorpio Crèche, agreed enthusiastically to the idea and to the initiation of the project. The children of the project in Ocean View will have the opportunity to learn and speak French and understand the French culture thanks to the efforts of French speakers sharing their knowledge through volunteer effort. The main objective of this project is to broaden the minds of the children and to make them aware of countries outside of South Africa.  In this respect, some knowledge of French is particularly relevant as it is the most spoken international language in Africa besides English.

Milla Puharinen, a kindergarten teacher from Finland and Julie Marchand, a French Language specialist from France had volunteered to pioneer this project. Milla and Julie are both volunteering in Cape Town as part of another Volunteer Centre initiative - Intercultural Youth Exchange.

The ultimate vision for this project "Big Things Begin Little" is that these children will grow up with the feeling of empowerment. This project will hopefully help break the "sometimes self inflicted barriers of isolation" that so many young people from poor neighborhoods place upon themselves.  

It is the duty of all of us to make opportunities available, not to lose these children to the negatives of the world, but to empower them and make them aware that they have a future with infinite possibilities. Hopefully this project will be the start of this.  

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