Children’s Meeting Place
Soweto South Africa 2002

In conjunction with the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Globetree is invited to inaugurate the Children’s Meeting Place in Soweto. 500 children from 11 centers in Soweto perform programs of their every-day life in the slum. More than 3000 children took part in the preparation. Guests of Honor: Minister for the Environment Lena Sommestad, the Mayor of Soweto, Ambassadors and Mr. Theodore Oben, Chief UNEP’s outreach, public relations and communications activities for young people and sport organizations.

EU-commissioner Margot Wallström
EU-commissioner Margot Wallström heard of the meeting with the children of Soweto under the Tree. She called Globetree and asked: – Can I also meet with the children by the tree in Soweto? It was a meeting which touched everyone who came. Read more about this very special meeting!

The children of Soweto in the SIWI Water-dome
SIWI (The Stockholm International Water Institute) invites the children from Soweto to perform at the stage, as part of the Swedish official presentation in Water Dome. The children unite water from places they care for and hand over the united water to SIWI Exec. Dir. Anders Berntell and sing the song Let us Join – You can Count on Us! The children’s singing is on a big screen and all in the Water Dome sing together with the children!

Memories of the days in Sowerto
We had very busy days when we visited children in 11 areas of Soweto. It’s not easy to find your way! We constantly went the wrong direction. When we finally arrived children with many different life experiences are waiting in children’s homes, schools and institutions. One group of children have many physical and mental disabilities – can only move a finger or blink with an eye. Sisters and brothers to these children assist in the rehearsals and explain what the move with the finger and the eye means.
The inauguration of the Children’s Meeting Place will be in Oppenheimer Park. There are no chairs. Many other activities are on in the park and we borrow chairs from here and there for the Guests of Honor. They are already on their way coming; The Swedish Minister of Environment and the Mayor of Soweto come together with Ambassadors and Mr. Theodore Oben, Chief UNEP’s outreach, public relations and communications activities for young people and sport organizations. We are all seated and waiting for the official representative from the South African Government. We see a woman coming in uniform and offer her the seat next to the Minister. The children greet all welcome and share their dreams, worries and suggestions for the future with dances, songs, poetry and music. The Minister, the official Government Representative and the Mayor thank all children.
In the evening Kajsa Dahlström, President of Globetree, is invited to the Swedish Delegation Meeting. She sees all ambassadors and the Minister laughing their heads off. The reason? The Official South African Representative who got the seat next to the Minister was the security guard of the Minister – who without any hesitation took the role as an official!
The day after we visited all 11 centers and had farewell party with a lot of food, drinks and dancing with the leaders.

– Can I also meet the children?
On the way back to Johannesburg EU Commissioner Margot Wallström call us and ask: – Can I also meet with the children. All are speaking of the very special meeting in Soweto. Kajsa says without hesitation: – Of course you can. When do you have time? – You decide the time. I will be there! At the next roundabout we drive back to Soweto to all 11 centers. – Can you come back tomorrow to Oppenheimer Park – EU Commissioner so much wish to meet with you! All will come. We discuss how we can solve transport and food for all. All is solved. We call Margot Wallström and set the time. All children are in time. The chairs we borrowed are no longer there. We have no seats for the Guests of Honors! The children sit on newspapers on the ground and in the last second we find a small plastic bucket. That is the seat for the EU Commissioner. The children are sitting very close to her and ask her questions about their worries and problems in their every day life. Soon tears are running down her face and all who are coming together with her – who are standing around. – When my father comes to me in the night I don’t like that. What shall I do? Margot explains it is not allowed. It’s forbidden by law. – If my father goes to prison who shall give us food? All is silence. – Do you have children. Margot takes out photos of her sons and the photos goes from hand to hand. Tears are running. Children ask about the World Environment Conference – What do you decide there? Can we get clean water? Our water is very dirty. Questions about the environment get another dimension. After the talking together Margot walk off hand in hand with the children. ED from international companies who came to get some words with Margot Wallstrom didn’t get any words. Margot shows she is here to meet the children. No one else. All of us who were there will never forget this day.

Afrika 2002-08 Soweto InaugurationLenaSommerstad4
Afrika 2002-08 Soweto ChildrensMeetingPlaceMargot Wallström2
Afrika 2002-08 Soweto InaugurationLenaSommerstad1Bild
Afrika 2002-08 Soweto AmbassadörenHelenaNilsson

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