Vicky Prithraj is the chairman of the Funda Zophila Foundation. He presents the Edu-Assist Awareness Programmes on bullying and abuse and ensures that they are done correctly. He regularly hosts discussions with the provincial school coordinators and with the assistant director for the national office for basic education to update them on progress and problems experienced at schools with the running of the programmes.
Chatsworth Tabloid (CT):
Tell us about the Funda Zophila Foundation
Vicky Prithraj (VP):
The Funda Zophila Foundation is a registered non-profit organisation with the Department of Social Development. We are a Section 18A approved organisation. Funda Zophila runs Edu-Assist Awareness Programmes on bullying and abuse at schools throughout South Africa. We rely totally on funding from the public, businesses and corporates to make this possible. The programme is done with students and Life Orientation educators. We refer to this part of the programme as the TAT programme- Tell a Teacher programme. The TAT programme is done through the Teaching Tool Kit (primary schools) which helps in making the lesson funny, enjoyable and exciting. All programmes are based on the simple abbreviation that we call K.I.S.S meaning Keep It Super Simple.
CT: Why do you think that bullying is such a problem?
VP: Students are bullied for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they are bullied because they are different or because they are clever or popular. It can be caused from differences in race, sexuality, religion, disabilities, weight, height or anything that creates a difference between one child and another. At other times, they are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Students who bully sometimes have problems or are unhappy. They may be trying to make up for a lack of attention, power or love in their own lives. These students need to feel powerful and seem to enjoy harming others. They often do not understand the feelings of the person they bully.
Those who persistently bully often do so in order to dominate others and improve their own social status. Bullying often comes from a belief that it’s okay to act that way. Sometimes, they don’t even know that what they are doing is bullying behaviour or they don’t understand how much hurt and anxiety they cause.
CT: What does a typical day in your life entail?
VP: I get up at 4:30am, shower, read my Bible and spend time praying with my wife. I then take my daughter Sarah to school. We call
this our daughter and father time where she uses the time to discuss everything that’s on her mind. I get back to my office, pray with my staff and I then make a call to check on how my son Ryan, who is a lawyer, is doing in Cape Town. I check my day’s to-do-list and then make calls to various business sectors to assist with funding so that we can continue with the programme and have it printed in other languages.
CT: How can the community help to reduce bullying?
VP: When you see something do something, hold bystanders accountable, listen and don’t pre-judge, deal with students individually, don’t ignore it and pay attention.
CT: How can people get help if they are bullied?
VP: Funda Zophila Foundation helps with counselling. We work closely with Childline KZN and the South African Police Service as well as other religious institutions who are willing to assist. If assistance is needed by a parent of a child that is bullied or abused we can be contacted via WhatsApp or SMS on 082 909 7869 or you can email me on email@example.com.