June 25, 2017
The youth of South Africa, like all youth across the globe, deserve a chance to build a future. This article highlights three organizations that support youth in a multitude of ways as the unique social landscape of South Africa demands various programs based on each situation. This is how South Africans are creating a better tomorrow for their youth through education, empowerment, and opportunities.
Abu Asvat Peace Club – Nation Based Education and Social Growth
The Abu Asvat Peace Club based in Lenasia, Gauteng Province in South Africa teaches high school aged youth how to build better lives, promoting an anti-racist society to their club members calling upon a Nation-based system of thought.
The Peace Club connects youth from local high schools at a maximum of 45 members a year, and stems from the black consciousness movement that began in 1968. The black consciousness movement taught non-whites how to reclaim their identities living in a society that placed them in an oppressed belief system under white rule.
“The thing is, our politicians talk about the change they will make and once elected, we go another five years with no change. We are taking the opportunities into our own hands in order to create change in our communities,” Sadeque Variava, a Peace Club leader said.
The young members attend four workshops a year that build confidence, leaderships skills, self-reliance, and self-belief, giving them direction as they go through school and look into the future.
In the workshop series they teach about racism, black consciousness, and personal consciousness, ending their series with a trip to the Cradle of Humankind, where the oldest dated human remains have been found.
These workshops promote what students are not taught by their social structures; about history, apartheid, and freeing their minds of colonial dependence and what they have been taught about their role in society.
”[The Peace Club is] Giving us knowledge of what happened during the apartheid regime […] what the Peace Club has done that the government couldn’t is, yeah, enrich our knowledge,“ Ncogwane said, “in ninth grade, we did touch on those sorta topics, but we didn’t really go into them.”
Ncogwane says the club has motivated him to think more about going to university. Although he is not sure, it is the push that has got him to start thinking about studying sound engineering.
Lesedi Krayzee-Lee Koena-Seleki, a two year facilitator at the club summed up what the Peace Club is about saying, “The Abu Asvat institute preaches one motto at each leadership camp which is ‘the only way to liberate a person is to liberate their mind’ and that is what we strive for”
Solidariteit Helpende Hande: Supporting Education for Afrikaners
Solidariteit Helpende Hand based in Pretoria, South Africa supports Afrikaner communities living in poverty throughout South Africa who earn no to low income. Through their national projects they support the lives of families by improving their living conditions and social and economic opportunities.
With government support as low as 800 rand ($62) per child a month to 1,520 ($117) a month for the elderly, the ability to live decently is undercut. Helpende Hande comes in to support youth education, bring care to the elderly and help develop entrepreneurial business opportunities among other improvement projects.
Because schools in poor Afrikaner communities are not sufficient educationally and families may not have enough income to help provide for their students education, Helpende Hande makes it possible for these kids to have the supplies needed for school and even bring students to university.
“The school system is zoned, meaning students have to go to an assigned school. Thus a poor child will have to go to a school in a poor community with poor services and subpar teachers. Students may end up staying here and not going any further in their lives than this. One of our goals is to break that cycle of poverty,” Communication Director Rene du Preez told us.
In eight years, Helpende Hande has been able to provide over 7,000 students a university education covering their accommodation, fees, and books. Students have gone on to become doctors, engineers, and teachers.
Currently, the “Cents for Students” campaign by Helpende Hand has helped bring interest-free loans to students as loan interest in South Africa for university can be as high as 30 percent. The donations this year helped 1,487 students, and they have a goal of helping another 100 next year. The program has been successful with a 98 percent payback rate.
Perez commented on breaking the cycle of poverty in South Africa saying, “The unemployment rate of youth aged 15 to 24 is now at 54 percent. Entrepreneurs need to be empowered, alternative skills need to be learned and businesses need to be built up to be able to employ more people. The poverty of our people is a symptom of the poverty of all South African groups that is on the rise. We need to do our part for our people, so we can work towards solutions with all groups in South Africa.”
RLabs: Empowering Communities and Providing Opportunities
RLabs located in Bridgetown, Cape Town, holds many opportunities for people to tell their stories to turn them into something more within society. This is how they started at least, as former illegal workers told their stories as a way of creating greater understanding and to provide a positive outlet for people’s experiences and skills.
RLabs focuses highly on the use of social media to promote their stories and causes in addition to providing education and bringing community members together to support each other.
Upon first take, what exactly RLabs does is a question all in its own, as they have programs in twenty-two countries and have numerous impacts on people’s lives.
According to their website, rlabs.org, “core activities are skills and training, community development, social and disruptive innovation, mobile and internet solutions, social enterprise incubation, impact investing and social franchising”
RLabs gives it employees opportunities to grow as well as contribute.
“If there is something you are passionate about then we attach you to that program,” Chanel Fredericks, the assisting project manager at RLabs told us.
Fredericks, now 22, bought herself opportunities through the RLabs Growth Leadership Academy (GLA).
The GLA, founded in 2013, aims to build youth into leaders who bring positive change into their communities and also emphasizes on teaching digital skills and encouraging entrepreneurialism.
The program for people ages 18 to 25 is for high school graduates. Chanel was one of the exceptions as she finished her high school degree after completing the program.
Chanel found out she was pregnant during her final exams and had to leave highschool just before graduating. In 2014, she went through GLA and became an intern with RLabs six months later. By the end of 2014, she facilitated GLA herself and has been at RLabs since.
“I need to do this for myself and for my son,” she told us. Her son today in four years old.
The GLA, with over 600 participants since starting, allows for graduates to pursue whoever they want to be afterwards.
GLA coordinator, Cyril Mphanga says, “One could pursue a business idea that they had during the program while another gets a job and another pursues their studies. In a general sense it builds a future where individuals actively seek to improve their communities.