What are you doing for the earth in this time of crisis? Our planet is facing an
environmental emergency which authorities are doing little to halt. Many of these
disasters, such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels, are the result of
processes generated by major corporations. They’re issues that can be dealt with. Yet
the situation gets worse every day. Eleven-year-old Othembele Dyantyi is raising her
voice to encourage a union of action against this unprecedented climate injustice.
Dyantyi is part of Extinction Rebellion, a global socio-political movement to drive
government action to prevent the planet’s breakdown. At the forefront of the South
African resistance, Dyantyi and her army of youth activists are spreading awareness
about the causes and severity of the climate crisis. Together, they’re calling for the
protection of endangered ecological systems and challenging the government to invest
in renewable energy.
Julie Kynaston’s children didn’t grow in her belly. She calls herself a ‘heart mama’ – a
reference to where her love for them burgeoned. When Kynaston and her husband,
Ryan, decided to start a family, they were determined to adopt. But during the process,
they encountered a distinct lack of information online. It didn’t deter Kynaston from
making the fulfilling choice. Now, she’s using her words to close the gaps and help
other South Africans.
With Heart Mama Blog, Kynaston speaks openly about the joys and difficulties of having
an adoptive family and being a parent. Here, people can share their stories of what it’s
like to adopt, or to have been adopted. Adoption, especially multi-racial adoption,
comes with a slew of challenges. Her site includes useful resources for those interested
in adopting within South Africa. As Kynaston creates a safe space to educate, she’s
For many children, adoption can be rooted in trauma or loss. Her own family is
testament to the love that comes with adoption. With her kids Ilan, Kira and Judah, they
show there’s no one way of being a family.
Moerieda Joubert’s mother understood the importance of connecting with people. And
what better way to do that than by sharing a meal? Even though she had Parkinson’s,
she would prepare food for the local old-age home out of her own pocket. After her
passing, Joubert has proved the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Imprinted with a sense of goodwill, Joubert founded Statice Square Senior in Cape Town
to build a community from companionship and love. For the past 15 years, she’s been
providing scrumptious five-course meals and organising entertainment for the elderly.
A pensioner herself, Joubert uses her limited funds to continue her mother’s legacy.
Going beyond her means, Joubert is nourishing people with kindness and creating
priceless opportunities to break bread with others.
Streaks of colour drip down the canvas as the image of a woman begins to take shape.
Patrick Seruwu alternates between slathers and dabs of acrylic paint. Despite the
delicate details, his portraits are emotionally-charged and rooted in a heavy reality.
Representative of women who’ve been abused and fear speaking out, the artworks
convey their trauma.
Before the Ugandan-born, Johannesburg-based contemporary artist began painting, he
used to braid women’s hair for a living. This, combined with his upbringing alongside
three sisters and a single mother, influenced Seruwu thematically. To fairly depict their
experiences, he bases his paintings on conversations where women dictate their own
stories. One of the questions Seruwu often asks, “Are you safe at home?” reveals an
unfortunate reality – many women aren’t.
His multimedia works serve as a powerful statement. Though he’s only been painting
for two years, Seruwu’s pieces have exhibited at the Turbine Art Fair and the ABSA
Gallery in Johannesburg. With his art, he’s furthering the conversation on gender-based
violence, reminding people of women’s struggles, and celebrating their resilience.
Your body is yours. Yet a 2016 Optimus Study reveals that a third of adolescents in
South Africa have been sexually abused at some point in their lives. This is an extreme
violation, the effects of which can last a lifetime. In an attempt to prevent this
exploitation, Fanie Viljoen has written a book that’s educating children and adults in the
face of violence.
In 2019, Viljoen published The Day the Dragon Came, a children’s story about sexual
abuse in the home committed by a ‘dragon’. He has written different versions of the
book for boys and girls, which include illustrations by Tumi K. Steyn. Viljoen explains in
simple to understand, child-friendly ways the difference between safe and unsafe touch,
and what to do if you’re being harmed.
The books also contain information for parents, guardians, and teachers on how to
recognise abuse and take appropriate measures. “Some things are uncomfortable to
speak about but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be addressed,” Viljoen says. Teaching
children about consent can protect them from dragons that come their way, even in
adulthood. But it’s listening to kids and taking action that ends the cycle of abuse.