Connecting to create positive pathways for youth

A group of Manenberg youths graduated after completing a three-month holistic youth development course.

Organisations working in Manenberg collaborated for a three-month skills development project aimed at high school drop-outs.

Fight for Peace, an international organisation which has been active in Manenberg for three years, and Project Hope, an initiative of Green Pastures Church, joined forces to form the Pathways pilot project – the latter giving youth from the ages of 14 and 25 years an opportunity to access a range of services. These include psycho-social and trauma support, life skills and personal development, drum therapy, karate and self defence, job readiness, music therapy, entrepreneurial skills, baking, barista, and information technology (IT) training.

Project co-ordinator, Xena Scullard, said the idea behind it is to get more organisations to work together, because in this way, a bigger impact could be made.

“No one organisation can serve the whole of Manenberg. This is an attempt to encourage organisations in the community to collaborate. In this way, more services are available to the youth. This was a holistic approach to youth development,” Ms Scullard said.

The two organisations partnered with five other institutions and organisations for this project – each bringing its own strengths and skills set to it.

“What this project showed us is that collaboration is the best model to use for youth development and violence reduction. Learning to work together was an amazing experience.

“Our call now is for support from local businesses and government to provide opportunities for internship and short to medium term job placements. We can’t not work with the group who dropped out of school and is no longer able to get back to mainstream schools. They have also been exposed to drugs and gang violence. As much as they are considered high-risk, they also have a high level of potential,” Ms Scullard added.

On Thursday July 25, the group of 18 youths who completed the three-month course, graduated at the Green Pastures Church in Manenberg.

Denise Stober, mother of graduate, Chad-Leeh Stober, 18, said: “My son struggled with his school work and I struggled to get him into a school that would see to his needs. I eventually enrolled him at a school of skills, and he improved a lot. When he learnt of Project Hope, he was so excited eager to join. He was a very withdrawn person and one could not get anything out of him. Now he is much more outspoken. His former friends were also bad influences. I see him now having his own business. He has the mindset now and he is very intelligent.”

Chad-Leeh said the project exposed him to many other opportunities. He enjoyed learning baking and entrepreneurial skills, and dreams of opening his own coffee shop and mechanical workshop.

Marilyn Jones from Project Hope, said their aim was to reach out to school drop-outs. Apart from their involvement with Pathways, they also have an aftercare facility, where they assist children who struggle with reading and writing. This, the church does with no funding, she said.

“The youth who completed the three-month programme were very committed. We need external partners to help them with internships for job-readiness,” she said.

If you can assist, contact Seth Reynolds at 067 020 2139.