SA CAN – South African Community Action Network.
I would love to introduce you to two amazing brothers and a sister I had the privilege of working with while I was in South Africa during 2009. As I have described elsewhere, one of the distinctive things about my time in SA was the sheer number of local, grass roots, heroes and heroines I met. Ordinary people with a hope and a dream for their country, and not only that, willing to give their lives to seeing it come about. Brian and Verdan with Teresa were three such people. I first met Brian and Teresa at the first training day we ran in Durban in 2008, true to form, Brian with all his energy needed to be in more than one place that day and so left at lunch time. Teresa remained and learned how to balloon sculpt amongst other things! Verdan and Teresa then came to the first Open Crowd Festival held on the Umhlanga village green a week later. It was the start of an amazing journey.
Out of a life changing tragedy in July 2003 was birthed for Brian, a vision and a cause into which all his energy and life has since been channelled. A member of the South African Police Service, he watched his partner and brother die at a crime scene, helpless to access the assistance that could save his life. SA CAN is today run by Brian, Verdan and Teresa with friend and brother Peter responsible for marketing. Based in KZN, it manages to network community members with each other to help prevent crime and share needs and resources – whether they be residents of settlements, townships, towns or cities. It networks emergency service agencies so that incidents can be responded to appropriately thus saving countless lives; particularly it works closely with the Police Service. While I was in South Africa all our teams mobile phones were registered with SA CAN which meant that if we were in danger anywhere, we were able to speed dial SA CAN operations who were able to locate us to within a couple of meters and deploy the necessary emergency services. We never needed to use it, once we were on the system! but it was good to know we could and I for one was a little more at peace knowing that my team had access to help if they needed it. In a country where there is no 999 or 911 service, they are a life line in KwaZuluNatal.
You can read more about Brian, the team and SACAN on www.sacan.co.za . But I just want to celebrate the tireless passion and commitment with which these guys have seen a very real need and brought an innovative response that not only meets the need and saves lives but also helps to build a greater sense of community cohesion in the process. I treasure the journey we took together through 2009; we particularly worked along side the team in Ladysmith, Molweni, Umhlanga and Hillcrest.