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Youth dreaming big

Nhlanhla Chiliza and Khetha Maphumulo are two young people from Lamontville who were concerned about the rate of teenage pregnancy, school-dropouts, HIV infection, and lack of socio-economic skills, drugs and substance abuse. They started Deprived Youth Service in 2007, which focuses on skills development for youth in eThekwini South. Since then, the organisation has grown and developed and is now part of the DREAMS programme – a global partnership to reduce HIV/AIDS in adolescent girls and young women. We spoke to Nhlanhla and Khetha as well as a parent and young person who was part of the Let’s Talk parenting communication component of DREAMS, facilitated by Deprived Youth Service.

Deprived Youth Service reflects:

We have been able to employ our former beneficiaries within the organisations, some of whom are currently in management positions. They have a vested interest in seeing this organisation succeed – in them we can see what we have achieved in our 10 years of service to the community of Lamontville. Being appointed by NACOSA to implement a project as big as DREAMS for the whole eThekwini South region challenged us and forced us to grow even faster.

It does not take a sociologist to discover that the youth in previously disadvantaged areas are not showered with adulation, adoration and opportunities.

The youth are not being armed with the tools that are relevant to the careers they want to pursue in future.

They are not being channelled to create their own destiny. In the past two years we have been able to provide tangible employment opportunities and growth to over 100 young people. The government also played a role by providing us with a great space to work and conduct our activities. Both donors and government were willing to take a risk on us by providing us with much-needed funding.

With Let’s Talk, parents were able to share strategies in raising their daughters, brokering difficult subjects and also realising that their children will get information from the streets if the parents avoid talking about sex and sexuality. One of the parents said that when she was growing up talking about these issues was considered an “abomination”, however, for her and her daughters things will be different going forward.

One of the most important things we’ve grown to realize when working with adults and the youth is that they are aware of where they are and where they need to go in life, but truth is their financial background still holds a high percent in limiting their ability to achieve their goals. Young people are talented but due to the lack of understanding the significance of using what you have to go where you want to be, results in them resorting to drugs and other harmful activities.

All of this is an initiative to create sustainable jobs and to create a platform for art development hence our skills development programme where we give them skills they can use in the job market.

A parent reflects:

Young people of today are into material things. Expensive gadgets that we can ill afford and the time the children spend on WhatsApp and Facebook makes it very challenging to be the only voice that your child hears while growing up.

I can be a role model for my daughter and hope that she is watching and will follow in my footsteps.

Participating in activities provided in our community for us to learn also helps us learn what else can help us in raising our children and keeping them safe. I have also learned that I can talk to my child about anything so that talking about difficult things becomes easy for us.

A young person reflects:

Peer pressure is a challenge. We like to belong in a cool group, without realising the consequences of being part of the bad crowd. We need to learn to say no, and also need to think about the future so we can make informed decisions. This also means learning not just from our friends but participating in activities that allow us to connect with other young people and get correct information.

Let’s Talk has made me an informed and knowledgeable individual, now I know what’s good and what’s bad for me.

I also know that I can talk to my mother about any challenge I have because I know that she has an understanding from participating in our sessions.

I know that she will not shout at me but will take time to listen and advise me.

Since I’ve been part of the DREAMS program, it has opened my eyes even more, personally I want to further my studies at the same time volunteering my time at the organisation helping other young people.

Find Deprived Youth Service on Facebook: Deprived Youth Service- NPO

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