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SHAWCO was started in July 1943 by Andrew Kinnear, a UCT medical student, who spent the vacation driving an ambulance to earn money to pay for his medical training.  He was appalled by the poverty, lack of hygiene and lack of medical facilities in areas like Kensington and Elsies River, and became determined to do something about it. Andrew Kinnear asked Dr Golda Selzer of the Pathology Department at Groote Schuur Hospital to assist him in establishing a clinic. Dr Selzer became one of the cofounders of SHAWCO and remained SHAWCO honorary life president until her death in 1999. In 2001, Mrs Graca Machel (our 1st Lady) agreed to become SHAWCO’s new life president.

 What started as a one-man initiative grew into one of the largest student volunteer organisations, attracting around 900 UCT students, close to 300 foreign students, as well as about 20 community volunteers every year. All of whom give of their time and energy for the same goal of building a better future. Youth development, provision of care for the elderly and the disabled is the two areas that the communities want SHAWCO to focus on.  A few of SHAWCO’s strategies are healthcare projects and multi-purpose community centers with skills training and recreation projects.

 SHAWCO Kensington Community Centre is home to the Visual and Performing Arts Project, STEP and Stepping Out. In addition, it houses the SHAWCO adult Day Care Club, providing meals-on-wheels to approximately  45 people in the area, and also houses a number of local organizations: the Jewish Women’s Union crèche , a home-care training facility, a church group, a community newspaper, as well as the Provincial Administration of the Western Cape  (PAWC) social services. After hours, the hall is used by a Judo club, a Ballroom Dancing club, available for hire – weddings, birthday celebrations and other occasions, and serves as a pension payout point twice a month.

 A project with the intention of consolidating the existing projects with a view to concentrate efforts to encourage education and provide opportunities for learners from this community to be able to access Higher Education Institutions, SHAWCO  commenced with this project in 2007. Learners from Grade 3 to Grade 10 are supported in Maths, Science and English together with the Arts, sport, debating etc.         

SHAWCO Manenberg Community Centre. The Performing and Visual Arts Project, taking place at the centre, involves UCT students volunteer who help local primary and secondary school learners develop communication skills and leadership qualities through art and drama. The Manenebrg Sport Project also takes place at the centre. It involves more than 100 children participating in various sporting codes with the help from UCT students’ volunteers. In addition, the centre houses a local crèche, family and child support services and serves as a pension payout point.

In 2008, SHAWCO visualized the implementation of “all round education model” where about 300 learners from the community could be exposed not only to the visual arts, sport, debates and IT but also a sustainable effort to provide Maths, Science and English tuition with the aim of getting children from these previously disadvantage communities into institutions of higher learning.  More details of this project can be prepared, if needed. 

 SHAWCO Nyanga Community Centre is home to Masizikhulise (Let us help one another grow) Project. This is a vocational training project, which involves unemployed mothers and their children at risk. SHAWCO organises literacy classes and training for the mothers, while UCT students assess the children’s development, ensure that they receive adequate nutrition and engage them in stimulating activities. The Nyanga Sports Project takes place at a near-by community hall. The centre also runs an Adult Day Care Club for older and disabled people, and delivers meals-on-wheels to elderly and disabled residents in the area.
SHAWCO Khayelitsha K2 Community Centre is home to the Arts Project as well as SMART - Student Mentored All Round Tutoring Project.   

With the help of qualified teachers, SMART student volunteers provide Grade 10  to 12 learners from several schools with educational activities, complementing the school curriculum with the aim of facilitating their future transition to tertiary education.   There is also a computer training facility with 30 computers and a predominantly children’s reference library, the STEP Project, which provides primary school pupils with tutoring and extracurricular activities, and the Masifundisane (Let us teach each other) Project. This project involves vegetable production at two schools and the creation of an Environmental Park on a wetland site adjacent to the centre.  The centre also houses the Nonceba mother and child abuse-counseling centre, and it is used by the local community for church services and community meetings.

 SHAWCO Khayelitsha K1 Community Centre is home to the Noxolo Adult Day Care Club, as well as a number of local NGOs providing family and rape counseling, working with Aids orphans and offering other family-related counseling services.  SHAWCO has raised funds in the name of the late Dr Golda Selzer, to upgrade and expand the centre in order to transform it into a UCT teaching site and therapy centre, where members of the Noxolo club, as well as other Khayelitsha residents can receive occupational therapy, physiotherapy and other kinds of therapy from UCT students.

 In addition to the projects run at the SHAWCO centers, there is also the Masizame (Let us try) Project, which aims to improve the quality of life of children in 2 children’s homes, a convalescent hospital and an orphanage for disabled children through outings, play and learning.

 SHAWCO Mobile Health Clinics.  At the moment SHAWCO Mobile Clinics operate regularly in eight informal settlements, providing professional care to communities where state medical services are inadequate. In 2009 SHAWCO piloted its first rural health project, targeting those in under resourced areas, where health care is inaccessible.

UCT RAG (Remember and Give) is SHAWCO’s student fundraising team at UCT.  RAG’s 90 student volunteers raise money mostly through sponsorships and corporate events. SHAWCO also has a small fundraising team at the head office, whose task is to complement RAG’s work.

In short SHAWCO has:

·     22 staff members;

·     1,500 student volunteers per year;

·     20 community volunteers;

·     5 community centres;

·     4 clubs for older and disabled people;

·     9 buses and 3 mobile clinics; and

·     a budget of approximately ZAR10m 

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