FunDza started its special Rights project in 2014 – to coincide with 20 years of democracy – that sought to help our readers understand their rights better and feel more equipped to access their rights, in particular the socio-economic rights that are enshrined in our Constitution.

We’re very proud to be drawing a close to their first chapter of our Rights project, which has seen us:

  • Commission, create and publish 20 special rights-based stories that have been published on – all of which were published in English and one other SA language;
  • Compile and publish 21 resource booklets about each of the rights covered on;
  • Publish (through our print partner Cover2Cover Books) 10 of these stories in print in our innovative pocket booklet format (two are about to be released shortly);
  • Distribute 200,000+ of these rights booklets to schools, reading groups and other organisations countrywide (we should have distributed 250,000 once the final two versions are released);
  • Host four competitions that drew attention to the project, the Constitution in general and to human rights in particular.

The intention of the project was to show the relevance of human rights in people’s ordinary lives. FunDza worked with a range of organisations and individuals to ensure the stories and resource materials were of high quality and accurate reflections of rights in action.

The last competition – run in February 2017 – surveyed FunDza’s online readers to find out what they had thought about the project and to determine whether they had gained knowledge or deepened their understanding of their rights. We love our competitions, and with the fabulous feedback we get from our winners it’s a win-win for us all!

We’re pleased to report that an early analysis of the survey responses show engagement with the story content and resource materials. A quick analysis of the quantitative portions of the survey found that: 20% of the readers claimed to have read almost all the rights stories online while around 50% had six or more of the stories. The information/resource packs were similarly well-used and 86% said that they found all or some of the resources helpful in their lives. 84% gave the rights stories a ‘thumbs up’ in general and that same number said that they had learned something from reading the stories. A further 75% said that reading one of the stories had had an impact on their behaviour, while 69% said that it had helped change how they view our country (or people within our country). 53% said that they had shared one of the rights stories with a friend or family member. We received some wonderful qualitative feedback from readers, with some telling us how the stories had sparked debates with their friends or discussions about human rights in general. We can see that the stories do have an impact from comments – such as this one – that show us that stories can change attitudes and lives: “I shared a story with my friend. At first we thought that lesbians and gays are weird but now we try and get along with them. Its much cooler for her because she has a lesbian cousin. So at first she didn’t like her cousin but now gets along with her.”

Congratulations go to the five winners (selected by random draw) of the Our Rights Matter competition: Kgadi Teffi, Precious Mathye, Mahle Qina, Michael Mankgane Masenya and Pabalelo Mahlatji, who each received R1,000 cash and a goodie bag of treats from FunDza!

IMG_4114Michael (left) sent us a message thanking us: “Thank you so much. I got the treats yesterday and I’m loving them! I really appreciate the card. I’ll be rocking the t-shirt on campus tomorrow! Please pass the FunDza team my gratitude”.

The other four winners were also excited to be selected as a FunDza winner…

Kgadi was thrilled. She said: “I love reading different books just to empower myself with more knowledge. But the books that I love most are those of the Harmony High, especially Sugar Daddy. I learned a lot from this book. Not that I don’t learn from others it is just that this one hit home because I almost found myself in the main character’s (Busi’s) situation. The cash that I’ve won from FunDza I’m going to spend it to buy my little sister school shoes and buy data bundles so that I will be able to read with FunDza without worrying.”

Precious was just as happy: “I am so grateful to be honoured with this prize. Currently I’m busy reading the story the journey of the girl is a nice story. I plan to spend the cash by taking my self to a spa!” – Precious can enjoy some pampering whilst reading FunDza stories!

Mahle gave us a lovely blow-by-blow account of how he found out he was a winner! “It was just an ordinary Thursday as I was walking with my friends to Checkers. We were all giggling and laughing at each others jokes. It wasn’t until then that a message popped by my phone. As I opened the message only to realise that I won a R1000 and different emotions fumigated my whole mind. With excitement taking the lead. I really was so happy to have won a thousand rand. And I am planning on using it to buy the tablet I always wanted and tried to save money for. I am a very well focused person who doesn’t go through out a day without reading a book. And FunDZA was where it all started that I gained interest in reading peoples stories. I am very grateful for this.”

Pabalelo Mahlatji from rural Limpopo (Yes! FunDza reaches far and wide!) went on to say: “It means the world for to be a FunDza winner. I can’t describe the joy in my heart. FunDza stories, essays and poems inspire and encourage me daily, they are my shoulder to lean on when I am in dilemma and pains. I am going to use this prize money to apply at different university institutions in may.Viva Fundza!”

We are grateful to all our readers who entered this survey competition. It was an amazing response and we’re grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the impact from this type of project.

While this first iteration of our Rights project is now complete, we’re planning the second phase, Rights 2.0 – Bridging Divides, which will run over a three year period (ending in 2020). The name references our first Rights project and – using the ‘geek-speak’ of the 2.0 – alludes to our use of technology and progressive iterations of projects that learn through doing. The ‘Bridging Divides’ references our over-arching theme: whilst we recognise the growing polarisation of our society in so many deep ways – whether by class, gender, race, education, work or age – we also know that stories can be a means of uniting us all. Stories give us the unique opportunity to spend a little time inside the skin of other people and experience life from different points of view.

If we are to build a more equitable, just and healthy society, we need to find ways to confront our past, acknowledge our present, and imagine our shared future. Stories can help us to do just that.

The Bridging Divides project focuses on three main areas:

  • Community Divide: looking at issues related to race, religion, culture and class; it aims to confront the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality;
  • Gender Divide: this deals with all issues related to patriarchy, gender roles, sexual orientation, gender-based violence and more;
  • Information Divide: this theme looks at inequality in terms of education and access to information, and provides tools for critical thinking and debate.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact Mignon Hardie for more information or a project proposal.