Is your municipality working for you(th)?

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) recently announced that youth unemployment in the country currently stands at 36.1%. In Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, the youth unemployment figure stood at 36.9% at the last national census.

A number of young people in the city, place the blame on their inability to access information. “Some of us are able to access opportunities on the internet”, says Sphamandla a young resident in the city, “but for those without internet access, this is a huge problem”. He goes on to share how the city hosts an annual career expo during youth month, saying that, “we are unemployed and unable to access opportunities throughout the year. So while the expo is a good idea, the city is yet to ensure sustained youth mobilisation to address this problem and beyond that, ensure we are also able to effectively participate in municipal processes”.

The problems he speaks of are addressed in the National Youth Policy, which mandates each municipality to provide a youth desk. This youth desk was envisioned as a key point of youth mobilisation within all municipalities- where young people residing in the area could get information about jobs, bursaries and other opportunities in their area. It was also seen as potentially playing a huge role in ensuring youth participation in the municipality to ensure that young people play a part in making decisions that affect their lives.

In Ekurhuleni, the city has ensured that Customer Care Centres are available to citizens in the communities they service and because of the accessibility of these centres, they are seen to be key spaces in which youth desks can be.

Members of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network residing in Ekurhuleni, have thus started a campaign seeking to ensure that each customer care centre gets a functional youth desk. To join this campaign dial *120*4729*1# and join young people who are demanding that their needs are met by the city.

You are also requested to please share this campaign with other young people, because whilst one young person can be ignored- the plight of thousands cannot be.

Be part of the movement and reclaim your future!

Koketso Moeti is a member of the ACTIVATE! network. This article first appeared on Tame Times. 

Spreading warmth in Standerton

Activator, Anele Cele, co-founder of Inhlos’enhle Community Building (ICB), an organisation focused on broad-based challenges in the Standerton community, continues to put up a brave fight against Mpumalanga’s icy Highveld chill with her campaign to distribute used clothing among the residents of the Sakhile Informal Settlement.

Project Siyagcoka donated four bags of clothes to nine families at the beginning of June, says Anele, adding that continues to grow from strength to strength as more people become aware of the campaign and make the effort to drop their unused and unwanted items off at ICB’s Tholimpilo Home base.

First launched in 2008 after witnessing a small boy’s vain attempts at keeping his bare feet warm in mid-winter, Anele explains that this cause is close to her heart as she, too, was raised by a single mom who relied only on a social grant and income from occasional informal work passed on by their neighbours.

“I know how hard it is to have needs, that many consider basic, that are simply not met because the household only has one income to depend on. Social grants barely cover important items like groceries, toiletries and if one is very luck, a school uniform. There is never money left over for clothes.”

Through Project Siyagcoka,  people have an opportunity to participate in addressing the needs of those less fortunate in the community by donating, rather than just getting rid of, clothes they no longer want or need, she says.

Project Siyagcoka distributes clothes twice a year. Anyone wishing to donate any recyclable items can do so by contacting Anele on 082 599 1174 or email: acele690@gmail.com

Activator Makes The News

Roxanne chatted to The Big Issue about how celebrating the children’s birthdays is about not making them feel abandoned. She credits the ACTIVATE! network has helped her reflect on herself and refine her strategy. You can read the article here

Dress Jozi 2014

More than 500 young people, including Johannesburg-based Activator, Mzwandile Msimang, joined forces to spread much needed warmth to the inner city’s homeless as they took to the streets to hand out bags of clothing to the many shack dwellers and people living on the streets around Newtown just as the first serious cold front hit the Highveld last month.

“This year’s Dress Jozi was an unprecedented success with many more young people joining in and much more support received in the form of clothing donations as well as marketing and logistical support from both the city council, government and private organisations,” says Neo Kuaho, founder of YDIdi and Dress Jozi.

The annual event this year received welcome additional support from YFM, The City of Johannesburg, City Year SA, Harambee, PrinceMed, SAPS – Joburg Central Department, JDA, Bredwinna, My Hands & Heart, Shoprite Foundation, Lead-SA, Employed Youth Challenge and Black Stars, he said.

 “As much as the initiative benefits the city’s indigent with clothing and food parcels, it is remarkable to witness the impact the experience has on the young participants who gather to walk and donate. Without fail they leave with a profound change in perspective and a renewed sense of ambition and more often than not, go on to  become better citizens in their own communities after realising just how fortunate they are.”

According the Kuaho, the event often has even more impactful positive consequences than the clothing and sustenance that is handed out. ”

 “In June 2012 for example, we came across Noluthando, who at the time was living under the Newtown Bridge and wanted desperately to write her matric exams. However, she didn’t have an identity document which meant she was unable to register to write her matric exams. Our team immediately set to work to trace her both her educational records and birth certificate and she was able to get the necessary documentation and successful sit for her Grade 12 examination.””

 When first mooted in 2012, Kuaho says YDIdi was looking for an initiative that was bold enough to capture young people’s imagination.  We were considering volunteering our time and resources at various shelters but then realised that we needed a unique event that could really address the needs of this group of destitute people which is often bypassed by the official support systems from the Department of Social Development.

“We have received so much interest from young people around the country that our next step will definitely be to take the project nationally in the near future.”

5 mins with Florence

What’s your passion? My first love is media. I want to be involved in development media. I want to have a production house and be a talk show host for inspirational content that is based on development and upliftment.

What change are you keen to drive? I want to influence perception to make our country work, killing poverty of the mind, of knowledge, of everything. I want to see a society where people are rich in mind and spirit, empowering themselves, where they lose the sense of having things donefor them.

How are you driving change? I currently work for Tshikululu Social Investments, approving grants. It’s part of my plan to become a brand of influence and perception. I’m also doing motivational talks and I’m helping set up an Activator seed fund.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change? I found myself and discovered how powerful I am. I also found my people, my family, the network, who share similar sentiments. That’s priceless. Also, resources andknowledge.

What do you think is the priority insetting the agenda for our countryover the next five years? Education. We need to educate ourselves as much as possible as young people, so we can make decisions for ourselves and stand for things that we believe in. Without education, we can’t question.

How do you motivateyourself? I read a lot. AndI do one of the weirdest thingsevery morning, I talk to myself.

Final comment? We keep saying Mandela freed us. It’s our time as young people, it falls upon us to be the generation we want, nobody owes us nothing.

Ubuntu is not convenient

A friend of mine recently posted ‘convenience doesn’t work in humanitarianism’. I took this to mean that being selective by what we can learn from Mandela’s life won’t bring us any closer to solving the challenges South Africa faces.

An act of humanitarianism or goodwill to humanity should be something that we walk, talk and promote in our everyday contact at home, work in the street and community that we live in. Hunger knows no date or month. Then why do we acknowledge the hungry man and woman, the downtrodden when it is Mandela’s birthday month?

It is fine to cook soup and bread for me, but don’t do it to ease your conscious for not creating an environment where we can coexist in the employment market and communal gatherings. Don’t clean my yard for the cameras to capture the untrue images of my surrounding. Don’t clothe me with white shirts and black trousers that were ironed to portray a formal image in an informal settlement.

When I reflect on what Mandela day means to me, I can’t help but think that it should a day of feedback to ourselves, looking back into what we have been doing throughout the past six months since the year has started as a way of refining our actions and revisiting those resolutions that we made when it started.

Selective application of the principle of ubuntu to appease the media is not going to do the nation any favour or for that matter create a great nation.  

Mandela day should be a celebration of Nelson’s life, as a human being who lived and died for humanity and peace.

MJ Lekalakala joined the ACTIVATE! network in 2014 and he is from Dr JS Moroka Municipality.

5 mins with Roxanne

What’s your passion? Children. They don’t often have a choice in the situations they find themselves. And they will carry future generations. A lot of people focus on education of children, but they forget the part were the child is a person, and that’s where my passion is.

What change are you keen to drive? Our social system, it’s not adequate enough, with a focuson children’s homes. We say we’re putting children in places of care but are we really? Often they areovercrowded, not well monitored and children’semotional needs are unmet.

How are you driving change? ‘Hidden Halos’ started in 2011 as a non-profit focused on uplifting children:

  • Children in children’s homes may feel ‘forgotten’.We run birthday parties celebrating each child with abirthday, while doing something educational around life skills
  • ‘My little toy empire’ is about early childhood development, helping impoverished children play with toys in a way that stimulates their development.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change? I have become more focused and structured in the way I do things, with project planning and models.

What do you think is the priority in setting the agenda for our country over the next five years? Early childhood development. We’re focusing too much on higher and tertiary education, forgetting that most people don’t even have the basics.

How do you motivate yourself? I’m a “this is what needs to be done, do it” kind of person. It just happens naturally.

Final comment? One of my challenges is getting people to respect differences and not to judge. If we can work together through mutual understanding and respect then the community would be a better, more secure place.

Taking up the struggle against corruption

Corruption is rarely ever seen as a youth struggle. Corruption Watch took up this challenge by bringing together young people from across South Africa to contribute to their youth strategy and  take what they learned from their youth survey forward. 

The month of June celebrates young South Africans while the 16th is used to commemorate the youth of 1976.In the lead-up to Youth Month, Corruption Watch undertook a youth survey which it hoped would inform their future youth interaction. Over 6 000 participants between the ages of 14 and 34 took part in the survey, which revealed that:

  • Young people perceive the police, transport and licencing to be the most corrupt departments, followed by Home Affairs;
  • 26% of young people feel that corruption hampers their access to basic services, and
  • 22 % see corruption as hindering their job prospects.

On the 16 June 2014, Corruption Watch used the survey as a basis to bring together a diverse group of youth from across the country. Organisations such as ACTIVATE! Change Drivers; Equal Education; Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ), together with university students and high school learners.

According to Ronald Menoe, Corruption Watch’s head of stakeholder management, “Corruption Watch is engaging with young people, so that the, especially those affected by corruption, can contribute to the development of the organisation’s youth strategy and inform us on methods to be used”.

Corruption Watch sees youth as central in the fight against corruption, because youth are seen to have a stronger sense of what’s ‘wrong’ and ‘right’- as older people have generally needed to do more to get by.  Youth are trendsetters in most communities this influence means they have a greater potential to drive change. These are all very important features of the youth demographic that could be useful for the work Corruption Watch does.

Executive Director of Corruption Watch, David Lewis, says “young people are concerned about corruption and want to do something about it. S,o we see the youth strategy that will be developed with you [participants at the gathering] as a potential vehicle through which they can take action”. 

Amongst those present, there was a sense that the lack of faith in public institutions and this is a major hindrance in the fight against corruption. “Because I know the police where I come from, I honestly have very little faith that any corruption I report will be taken seriously”, said one participant, drawing a lot of agreement from others present.

Participants were taken through a process, where they identified which corruption issue they feel is a huge concern for them. Procurement at local government level, licencing and youth development funding were amongst the issues that came up tops. They were then tasked with developing campaigns to address these concerns – after being given a quick guide to what makes a campaign successful.

The ideas developed ranged from apps to simple campaigns that depended solely on word of mouth. Innovation was a key feature in the development of the campaigns – with a common thread of identifying what has traditionally been seen as ‘big people’s problems’ to young people as co-owners too.

Lerato Mahoyi (25), facilitator at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, expressed great excitement about the process saying, “It was a great platform for young people to be heard on an issue we are often excluded from. An important realisation for me anda lesson I keep coming across is that corruption isn’t just about institutions and others ‘out there’. It’s about an individual, what they do with what they know and their everyday actions”.

Tshepang’s own Be28 story