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News and Resources

Madulamoho Housing Association Promotes Child Participation


News and Resources
By Kelly Trottier, Former Rooftops Canada Intern, South Africa
 
As a Rooftops Canada intern, I helped Madulamoho Housing Association (MHA) in Johannesburg sharpen up its communication with over 2000 social housing tenant households. A key goal was to increase tenant engagement in sustaining MHA’s vision. At MHA, tenants are the primary focus, and a special emphasis is placed on child tenants.
Children see things differently from adults. They offer a different perspective on tenant issues and are often those most likely to share their honest views and opinions. They also need a platform to raise their concerns and to discover the power of their own voices, minds and spirits.
In impoverished households, where parents are struggling to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads, children do not always receive as much attention as parents would like to give. Playtime, mentoring and parental supervision compete with working multiple jobs and paying bills. One result is that children sometimes act out in ways that damage housing projects. From clogging toilets with garbage to writing on walls and ignoring house rules, children cause ongoing maintenance and security issues.
To address some of these issues and the needs of child tenants I organized meetings with children at Resdoc House, one of MHA’s properties. I presented the children with a story that described MHA’s mission, the history of Resdoc House and some children’s disruptive acts. They had a beginning and a middle, but the end was up to the kids.
The children’s understanding of issues at Resdoc flourished, along with their enthusiasm and drive to improve conditions. I asked them what they could do to make Resdoc better.
The children exercised their problem-solving skills and brainstormed solutions to pressing issues such as vandalism. They created a House Rules contract, where they listed all of their ideas for improving Resdoc. The exercise encouraged the children to develop a new sense of respect and ownership in their surroundings.