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You get the picture. It’s not an easy place to grow up by a long shot.
Diepsloot is what’s known as an “impoverished township” in Johannesburg, South Africa and is home to more than almost 140,000 people - many of them classed as “youth-at-risk”
Since 1990, the wonderfully named Shumbashaba Community Trust programme has been carrying out some amazing work in one of the most difficult parts of the world. Their “Horses Helping People” initiative - partially funded by the FEI's Solidarity Program - is striving to improve the spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing of the young people who live there, by introducing them to horses and bringing some equestrian love into their lives.
As with many at-risk young people, sometimes the lack of a focal point can do nothing to improve their situation, and many fall into a life of crime and addiction. This has the effect of reducing their life expectancy somewhat as gangs and violence are often a result of this route through life.
Shumbashaba’s work enables these at-risk young people to experience horses and all the positive emotional, psychological and physical benefits they can bring to our lives, and with spectacular success. The youngsters get to learn about how to look after, feed, clean and love the animals - and in the process gain some valuable knowledge about basic life skills.
Simply being around the horses - touching them, brushing and talking-to them has shown to have boosted confidence and had calming effects on many of the troubled youths, with many of them becoming bitten by the equestrian bug and wanting to learn more about the world of horses.
Research has shown that participants experience an increase in self-confidence, sense of purpose and hope for a better future. What more could you ask for?
Text by FEI
Photography by Richard Julliart for FEI