Not all fun and games at The Great Pillow Fight

As I arrived at the College of Cape Town, Crawford Campus in Athlone on Saturday, 12 November, I knew that an awesome day was in store with clear sunny skies ahead for visitors making their way to The Great Pillow Fight hosted by SALA Foundations.
Not all fun and games at The Great Pillow FightThe foundation is a division of the South African Language Academy based in Cape Town.

As vendors made their final preparations and guests signed up for competitions, the sounds of DJ Casper and the South African Empowerment and Environment Project playing their marimbas could be heard echoing across the field creating an energy of excitement for the day.

Excitement came in the form of carnival games, giveaways and delicious foods that included Chip n Dip, Coffee Colony and Sweet n Things. The icing on the cake, however, was a live performance by Jimmy Nevis who was born and bred in Athlone and who performed his popular “7764” which highlights the life of the residents from the Athlone community.

Organised as a mass pillow fight, The Great Pillow Fight was created to support and change the lives of Cape Town youth. What started out as an innocent pillow fight amongst adults and children blossomed into an idea that set out to assist five non-profit organisations.

These non-profit organisations include:

Mary Beth Centre – an in-house child-care service supporting and empowering families residing in Cape Town, offering them safe, secure and nurturing environments where children can feel accepted and loved.

Compassion in Action – a community-based care organisation in the form of nursing care services available to those with mental, physical, emotional and social needs.

uThando leNkosi – provides child-care services to orphans and vulnerable children and secures them short-term living arrangements that provide places of safety.

Gift of Hope – a children’s foster home that provides a home for children who need a safe haven.

Deeds of Love Ministries – a sanctuary that offers community healthcare, disaster and famine relief and job creation development skills.

10% of the proceeds from The Great Pillow Fight will be allocated to Jimmy Nevis’ Blue Collar Foundation which provides educational bursaries, sponsoring students from a disadvantaged socio-economic background.

Encouraging young people

Created in 2004, SALA Foundations has been running education support programmes, mentoring, inspiring and encouraging young people by equipping them with skills to help them be successful adults.

“At SALA Foundations we believe in collaboration. Mother Theresa said, ‘I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot, together we can do great things.’ That has been the most amazing thing thus far, seeing individuals, organisations, corporates and even other non-profit organisations, all working together, learning from each other, exchanging skills and creating partnerships to make the event a success. We are influencing lives and I believe it will have a ripple effect that we’ll see for many years to come,” says Sam Daries, founder of SALA Foundations and organiser of The Great Pillow Fight.

SALA Foundations is currently involved with schools in Manenberg and Wynberg and are hoping to extend their reach to Bridgetown schools by 2017.

“To all our sponsors and supporters, we want to express our deep gratitude for helping us – we could not have done this without your very generous support,” says Daries.

As the crowd gathered and waited in anticipation to listen to the sounds of singer-songwriter, Jimmy Nevis, we were entertained by the Vadhini Indian Arts Academy with classical Indian dance – with colourful apparel, we all became mesmerised by their flawless movements.

Competition winners were announced after Jimmy Nevis performed and once winners received their prizes, we were ushered off to the designated pillow fight area. I had never felt more like a child in that moment – everyone that participated was elated as they went about hitting one another with pillows and laughing their heads off. Luckily, no one got hurt, as parental advisory was explicit.