Project information

Sigya Sonke (Youth Stand Together) Dance Project

Providing a creative alternative to crime, and drugs for some of South Africa's poorest children and young people. Through the medium of dance Sigya Sonke offers children an opportunity to develop their skills and self-esteem by providing daily workshops in both traditional African and modern dance.

February 2017 - January 2018

Charity information

The Gumboots Foundation (UK)

The Gumboots Foundation (UK) logo
  • Need


    Life for young people growing up in Alexandra is harsh and sometimes dangerous. Many have very difficult home lives, some living in tiny shacks without parents or adult care. There is extreme overcrowding, few open spaces or community venues. Most spend their free time on the busy streets with little to do and exposed to the temptations of drugs, alcohol and crime. Young girls are particularly vulnerable. Teenage pregnancy rates are extremely high.


    The dance project offers an alternative to life on the streets. It provides a safe haven for young people to meet and come together to channel their energies in a positive and creative activity. Under the leadership of local father and dance tutor Jack Letsoala, young people can attend daily workshops to develop their dance and music skills often to performance level. Jack and his wife are also there to provide wider support and guidance in times
    of extreme hardship.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To empower children and young people living in poverty in Alexandra township in South Africa.


    » Engage young people in creative activities which give them the opportunity to express themselves and help to build their confidence and self esteem.

    The numbers of children who regularly attend workshops. Their own and the Project leader's report on their progress, raised confidence and skill levels.

    Aim 2

    Help prevent young people being drawn into lives of crime, drug and alcohol abuse.


    » Provide creative activities in a safe environment where young people are encouraged to explore their potential and develop their talents.

    The project is popular and attractive to young people. Participation excludes use of drugs, alcohol and criminal activity. Project leader Jack expects discipline and commitment.

    Aim 3

    To help young people develop dance and music skills in both modern and traditional forms.


    » To run free daily dance and music workshops for up to 40 children in both modern and traditional African dance in an accessible local venue.
    » Provide opportunities for young people to display their talent by working towards public performances which promote and raise funds for the project.

    Project leader's report on attendance and individual's progress. A local assessor's evaluation on the basis of attendance at selected workshops and performances.

  • Impact


    The project offers more than dance and music. Membership requires young people to regularly attend, refrain from involvement in crime, attend school regularly and demonstrate a level of disciplined behaviour. Whilst setting clear rules Jack and his wife Beauty take a personal interest in each member providing practical support, guidance and encouragement. An assessment of individuals will determine how they have benefitted and what changes participation in the project has made to their lives.


    The project relies heavily on its founder and leader who sets the standards and provides the inspiration. His loss would risk its future. However over the years he has trained up a number of young people who now help run the workshops. With support from Gumboots SA they would be encouraged to keep the project going. It currently rents space in a church hall. Gumboots SA and UK are seeking to raise funds to purchase premises to house both the dance project and other child centred initiatives.


    Donors will receive a bi-annual newsletter which include a progress report on Sigya Sonke. Gumboots UK trustees visit South Africa regularly and will specifically report back both to trustees and donors on the impact and progress of the project,
    where appropriate using individual's stories.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £5,750

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      Amount Heading Description
      £3,000 Dance & Music workshops Holding 5 daily workshops over 40 weeks
      £2,000 Costumes & Instruments Costumes and instruments
      £750 Refreshements & transport Snacks after workshops and transport to performances
  • Background


    The project is based in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Established in 1912, Alex still bears the scars of apartheid and a legacy of neglect. It suffers from extreme overcrowding in an area of around 3 sq. miles with inadequate infrastructure for a population of approximately 500,000. Poor housing (20,000 living in shacks), high crime, high unemployment, failing schools, high teenage pregnancy rates and the devastating impact of AIDS on families make it a very difficult place for children to grow up.


    Vulnerable children and young people ages 6 to 21 from poor households. This can often mean households with no working adult, only an elderly grandmother and some where parents have died of AIDS and there is no adult care at all. Within this group will also be children with the HIV virus, often contracted in the womb. Though on medication many keep it a secret for fear of ridicule and rejection from their peers and wider community.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Gumboots has over 14 years experience working effectively with projects in Alex, Johannesburg. Through our sister organisation Gumboots SA, we have developed close relationships with local project leaders and many beneficiaries. We visit Alex regularly and have insight into the problems faced by young people growing up there. We are able to track the progress of many of the young people we support and assess the impact Gumboots funding has had on their lives.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Jack Letsoala

    Jack is the founder and project leader. He organises and runs the dance and music workshops and performances. He trains and mentors volunteer tutors.

    Beauty Letsoala

    Beauty has a pastoral role looking after the welfare of young people, often providing meals and temporary accommodation for those in crisis

    John Lightfoot

    John a trustee of Gumboots SA oversees and accounts for the spending of funds raised in the UK. He works closely with both Jack and Beauty Letsoala.

    Jenny Prangley

    A trustee of Gumboots SA, Jenny produces the bi-annual newsletter reporting on the projects progress. She provides practical & administrative help.