Spotlight South Africa: teaching kids about animal welfare through story

Kids look on as the Jungle Theatre Co. performs “A Dogs Life”.In Northern Sotho, the word Bosasa means “the future” and in this instance, it also happens to be the name of a small community located in close proximity to the Mdzananda Animal Clinic, a companion animal project of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in South Africa.

An apt name for a number of reasons, Bosasa is a temporary housing development for people who, for the most part, have lived in informal structures without access to ‘luxuries’ such as the basic necessities of running water and flush lavatories.

The children are also fortunate enough to have a play park.

It is in this community where the IFAW funded performance of ”A Dogs Life” by Jungle Theatre Company took place recently, in conjunction with Mdzananda Animal Clinic, on a very windy but warm Saturday morning.

A Dogs Life is an exploration of the lives of pets in urban communities, told through a story about a homeless dog “Wafi” and a lonely homeless boy.

Their struggle to survive in the city sees them tackle many obstacles and make important life choices. Seen through the eyes of the dog, some young audience members literally jump to their feet and dash for the safety of the nearest adult, as Wafi “comes to life”.

The performers bring “Wafi” to life.As children experience a mix of delight and trepidation, there is sheer amusement to be seen on the faces of the adults.

The story captivates from the beginning, with the cast members drawing the audience into the world of Wafi and his young owner, delivering important messages about the practical aspects of animal welfare through dance and song. 

Touching on some of the social issues faced by many of these children on a daily basis, such as alcohol abuse and violence, the youngster’s expressions and reactions are clear giveaways.

These are the young people IFAW and Mdzananda seek to reach through its humane education programmes to ensure that they grow up exercising compassion and responsible ownership towards their dogs and cats and those living within the community.

--LCH

Learn more about the International Fund for Animal Welfare's efforts to educate students around the world at our Education page: IFAW.org/Education

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Experts

Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Hanna Lentz, Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Nancy Barr, Program Director, Animal Action Education
Program Director, Animal Action Education
Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
Program Advisor