A Voice for Children

28 June 2021

Grade 9 Spirit Education Foundation scholar, Brandi Ryland, serves as a Western Cape Child Government Monitor for the Commissioner for Children and was recently promoted to Advisory Council of Child Commissioner, Western Cape. In a live radio interview with Premier Alan Winde; the official spokesperson of Stellenbosch University, Martin Viljoen and the children’s Commissioner broadcast on Youth Day, Wednesday 16 June on Maties MFM (Stellenbosch University Radio), Brandi spoke on behalf of the children of the Western Cape, expertly highlighting the disparity between privileged and disadvantaged schools, in terms of access to mental health resources, as well as the need to destigmatize mental health through education and implementation of policies within schools.

Brandi shared with us some of her experiences so far as a Child Government Monitor:

I became one after Western Cape Children’s Commissioner, Christina Nomdo posted on her Facebook about learning in Covid times and what we think will make the 2021 academic year better for us. I e-mailed her a letter about my views, and she responded to my e-mail and asked my mother to contact her. After my mother signed forms so Christina could speak to me. Christina then messaged me to answer a few questions, which I did. About a week afterwards she contacted my mother to speak to both my mother and me. She asked if I would consider becoming a Child Government Monitor in her Office. She explained what my duties would be, who we work with and that we are the voices for children in the Western Cape. I agreed to become one and after lots of forms that had to be signed, I was officially welcomed by Christina and the other Monitors. Every Friday we have our meetings on WhatsApp from 5-7 PM and Christina is the only adult in the group chat. Christina says I am a little young, but she was impressed with me. So, we speak about anything that will have an effect on us children. Our most recent topic was on vaccines, and our input on the matter was sent to the Paediatric Association of South Africa. We speak in Parliament; we sometimes go on the media, and we are also connected to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNHRC). We also interview people who want to work in Christina’s office. I remain in office until I am 18, I can choose to stay on, but my voice won’t be heard after my 18th birthday. I really love working with Christina and the group because it’s also a safe space where you can speak freely. And there are no adults allowed on group chat except for Christina. She is a very cool person.