Art auction in Australia to raise cash for child rights group
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
A local child rights group is heading to Australia this month to auction off South African art in a bid to overcome its financial headaches.
Patric Solomons, director of Molo Songololo based in Observatory, told Weekend Argus this week that local artists have donated paintings and photographs.
Angus Leendertz, an ex-pat South African living in Sydney, is organising the auction. Solomons said this is the first time that Molo Songololo, established in 1979, had an external team raising funds for it.
“Fund raising has always been done internally for the 33 years of the organisation’s existence. We have received funds from small businesses, churches, child rights NGOs abroad and government departments,” said Solomons.
“Fundraising is a big challenge. Often we don’t have a full time designated team just to do marketing and fundraising. That requires resources. We don’t have that.”
Solomons unpacked how funding cycles have changed over the last few years. The result has been a perpetual crisis for non-governmental organisations that depend on external aid.
“There are now few funders who are willing commit to funding for a few years. It’s very rare that you get commitment that would stretch over a long period of time. Most funders assist with projects. Few funders assist with salaries or administrative costs,” said Solomons.
He said that Molo Songololo needs R2,5-million annually to employ 11 full-time staff members that run projects in poor communities and at schools.
The organisation managed to raise only half of its required budget and had to discontinue some programmes. Its popular Molo Songololo monthly magazine for children could no longer be published.
“We are going through a very tough time financially. We didn’t manage to raise all the funds we need to do all our work. We want the auction to become an annual event. We want to see if this can work in South Africa and in other places,” said Solomons.
He said they needed funds to operate their victim empowerment programmes, life skills and rights workshops at schools as well as lobbying and advocacy work with government.
“Children who have been abused are referred to Molo Songololo via police, health workers, prosecutors, teachers or other children. We assist a child who needs medical assistance or needs to talk to the police. We would engage with the parents or family. We provide direct support and counselling as well,” said Solomons of their work.
“We also do rights and responsibility education at schools. This is so that children are empowered and are able to defend their rights and protect themselves better. We motivate them into taking social action in their communities and schools.”
Children are involved in all Molo Songololo’s activities, said Solomons. The NGO ran art workshops where children created paintings that would be shipped to the auction in Australia.
Leendertz said the art works would be exhibited ahead of the auction planned for October 28.
Koleka Mqulwana, the South African high commissioner in Australia, is set to open the exhibition and auction. Andrea Durbach, the director of the Australian Human Rights Centre, will be the event’s guest speaker.
Leendertz said he formed the Molo Songololo Australian Support Group after becoming aware of the “plight of women and children”.
“The global financial crisis has had a devastating effect on NGOs all over the world as donors reduce or stop their funding. Organisations like Molo Songololo are at the frontline in providing vital services to the most vulnerable children in society,” he said.
“I decided to raise money in this rich country (Australia) and collected a wide range of similar thinkers around me and together we identified Molo Songololo as the group we could work with and support.”
Leendertz has also secured Australian artworks for the auction. One of the striking photographs by Jillian Edelstein on auction is of Archbishop Desmond Tutu taking with his head rested on his hands during the tough Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings during the mid-1990s.
Leendertz said they planned to host future fundraising events, including “more exhibitions and poetry recitals”
“We will introduce Art4Molo in America and Europe next year. As South Africa enters a new phase where NGOs appear to be the losers, civil society needs to play a much bigger role in ensuring that vital support structures, like Molo Songololo, must never be allowed to stop doing their important work,” said Leendertz.