Shumbashaba - Horses Helping People

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

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Shumbashaba - Horses Helping People is gaining a profile within the greater Diepsloot neighbourhood as a horse riding program that has significance and offers something of value.

The latest in a long line of developments is the invitation by the Diepsloot Community Service Providers Forum, led by the S.A. Police Services (S.A.P.S.), to participate in their Youth Month program intended to keep children off the streets during the winter school holidays and away from the many social ills they are exposed to. This is especially important for those children affected by extreme poverty and a lack of positive role models. With this in mind Shumbashaba is participating in the program with the first event having taken place on the 26th June, a march in support of the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking.

So it was that on a frosty Tuesday morning, some 8 riders and 10 horses from Shumbashaba and the Gauteng Horse Society (GHS) saddled up and joined in the march through the streets of Diepsloot led by the S.A.P.S. band in support of the campaign to raise awareness about the dangers that illicit drugs represent in society, which reflects one of the aims of Youth Month.

What started off as a small gathering of organisers, riders and horses at the Diepsloot Mall grew into a considerable number of followers drawn by the rousing music, waving banners, proud horses and riders as they made their way through the winding streets of the township. It felt and looked like the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin given flesh. For those remaining on the sidewalks all eyes were drawn to the messages painted on the ponies who acted as mobile advertisements against the dangers of illicit drugs. There was no doubt that the horses heightened interest in the march and added a novel component to an event that is a regular occurrence in a community like Diepsloot.

By the time the procession arrived at the open air informal market there was a definite sense of purpose amongst the members gathered to listen to and hear the addresses given out by the police and invited guests, which included staff and development athletes of GHS. This is a first for GHS and for the community of Diepsloot and hopefully it has awakened an interest in and for the role that horses can play in giving direction to a young person’s life. Indeed there are a number of opportunities available to youngsters: from riding as a sport through skills training for employment to equine assisted therapy, an area that Shumbashaba has chosen to focus on/specialise in.

There are many models offering an alternative to a life of disillusion, crime, drugs, alcohol and sex, but horses have not traditionally been seen as one of them and so the inclusion of the Shumbashaba horses in the activities of Diepsloot gives huge impetus to our belief that horses can make a valuable contribution towards upliftment in South Africa. Through our programs the horses are able to restore a sense of self-worth and purpose that is so often lacking in our youth.

We are very excited to see how an awareness of our Horses Helping People programmes is translating into more opportunities across many sectors. The talk is on the street.



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