Role models inspire community

Natalie Louw, a third-year medical student, addressed her fellow youth. Behind her is Esther Louwskidd, a second-year medical student, who also delivered a motivational talk.

Manenberg residents, passionate about their area and its potential, hosted a programme for children and adults alike, to inspire them to dream big.

On Sunday November 1, the residents gathered in a park to be inspired and entertained, with talks from an archaeologist, a doctor, two medical students, and a nursing manager, among others.

All the speakers have Manenberg roots and were specifically chosen, said the organisers, to introduce positive role models and to show the youth that fulfilling their dream was possible.

Kyle Daniels, one of the organisers, and a talented trumpeter himself, said all was not lost for the youth of Manenberg.

“We are here to plant a seed and to motivate them as well,” Mr Daniels said.

One of the guest speakers, Aghmat Mohamed, is part of the executive management team at Groote Schuur Hospital, managing 1 600 nurses. Mr Mohamed grew up in the area, and his mother still lives in Manenberg.

He is of the opinion that the social ills sometimes makes it difficult for young people to stay motivated.

“I completed both my primary and high school in Manenberg and studied locally and abroad. I also travelled to many parts of the world. I live a very blessed life.

So the aim is to motivate the adults to be good role models, to encourage the children to work hard at school, set goals for themselves, and especially for parents to support their children’s dreams,” Mr Mohamed said.

He told the audience that it is okay to be from Manenberg.

“We have lots of talent here. Many of us have business skills, and sometimes we just need a little push. The people who arranged this are really committed and want to see children flourish. I am happy to assist wherever I can – even if it is just to help a young person with a higher education application,” Mr Mohamed added.

Another guest speaker, Cecilene Muller, is an archeologist who serves as a council member on Heritage Western Cape – and still lives in Manenberg.

“Sometimes the youth feel despondent and their dreams seem impossible. I just came to remind them that with the right set of values and work, they can achieve their goals,” Ms Muller said.

Phoenix High principal, Jeremy Ontong, said a community gathering like this “is the perfect place to inspire, motivate and reprimand the youth”.

“The children do not always take in what is preached in a school hall, but I can assure you that one or two things of today’s gathering will stick with them. I am happy to be here, because a principal needs to engage with the community,” he said.

Esther Louwskidd and Natalie Louw, second- and third-year medical students respectively at Stellenbosch University, were also among the speakers.

“We are from Manenberg. We don’t have to look outside our community for inspiration. I am a testimony that nothing is impossible if you believe,” Esther said.

Natalie agreed, adding: “The nice thing about being from Manenberg, is that we can encourage each other, even while we are going through our struggles.”

Organiser Lionel van Rensburg said today’s youth had opportunities his generation did not have, and he would not like them to waste any opportunity.

“We want to help them rise above any difficulties,” Mr Van Rensburg said.