Young people are facing many challenges in today’s society. In some cases, especially where unemployment is concerned, these challenges are so great that they cannot take active part in and contribute to their families and the community at large.
More than 30 people, from various organisations, gathered at Salt River Community Hall on 22 September, during the South African National NGO Coalition‘s NGO Week, to find innovative solutions to issues concerning youth.
Among the panelists was Gerald Jacobs from Mamelani Projects, Sifiso Jezile from My Life Foundation, Paul Hooper from Western Cape Street Children’s Forum, Nokwanda Luthuli from the Western Cape Department of Labour and Alicia Mlokoti from the National Youth Development Agency. Many organisations working with children and other interested parties made up the audience. The discussion was open to all to participate and was facilitated by Mamelani Projects
The aim of the discussion was to share experiences, raise awareness and identify lessons learnt from successful interventions that are being implemented by local organisations.
The panelists gave an overview of the challenges facing today’s youth, especially unemployment. They focused specifically on youth coming from children’s homes and the criminal justice system. They introduced their organisations, shared their challenges and how they overcame these.
Jacobs said that youth do not have support through business training. Even the practical process of getting a job is a challenge on its own. Youth do not have money to copy and fax their CVs or for transport to go to their interviews. According to Jacobs, mentoring needs to be made available to youth.
Hooper said that street children are a “society thrown away”. They know what they want, but they do not know how to even begin to achieve it. They need proper support and care.
A member of the audience, Rachel Khatlane from Feet of Mercy, said that an inter-connectedness is needed between different organisations dealing with the same issues: “Resources are not accessible to communities, the youth is losing hope and structural support, such as therapy, is needed,” she said.
It was agreed that youth coming out of the criminal justice system need someone to empower them, skills development and education.
Mamelani Projects runs a programme called Project Lungisela that supports youth in children’s homes, who have to leave these institutions when they reach the age of eighteen. These youth have often missed a lot of schooling, because they lived on the streets for some time. When they leave the home, their chances of finding a job is thus limited.
Project Lungisela aims to equip these individuals to face the challenges of leaving institutional care. Mamelani works with the youth for a two year period before they leave the home and continue to support them thereafter. The programme consists of weekly lifeskills workshops geared at personal development. The youth are assisted to obtain the necessary skills to find employment in their area of interest and they are given work experience through internships. Mamelani also helps them to find safe and secure living arrangements after leaving the home.
Creative Consulting & Development Works worked with this inspirational organisation when we facilitated a strategic planning workshop for them in 2007. We hope to go on supporting them as we did at their fundraising breakfast that we blogged about at the end of last year.
Many other interesting discussions and workshops took place during SANGOCO’s NGO week, covering topics such as education, xenophobia, health, media, violence and much more. Creative Consulting & Development Works found the ones that we attended very interesting and informative.
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