Kereditse Mothibakgomo, a young South African from the township of Hartswater, tells us about her participation, with other peers, in the Be the Change project, set up to help overcome barriers between different racial and social groups. Together, they helped disadvantaged youth and adolescents identify the needs of their communities and engage in concrete solidarity action.
Source: United World Project
Hartswater is a small town in the semi-desert region of South Africa. It has the second largest irrigation system in the southern hemisphere and therefore its economy is mainly based on agriculture. When it became clear that the pandemic would last for a long time, we asked ourselves how to look for long-term solutions. Among the groups most affected by the crisis, we identified young people from the least advantaged social groups.
Networking with others, we launched a project that we young people ourselves decided to call Be the Change, because it was intended to train agents of transformation in environments with greater risks for us young people.
Together, we set up a training course lasting about 6 months, with 3 weekly lessons divided into 6 modules that included job preparation, daily life skills, IT skills, food safety, etc.
The first two weeks were devoted to intensive training on the Art of Loving. We had several concrete experiences with this.
The program included the drafting of a personal development plan with periodic monitoring for the transition to the next stages. It also included practical community service actions such as making and distributing masks, face shields and cleaning two locations.
Despite the limited number of direct beneficiaries (15, in the first course), the project aroused great interest and we were asked to present it at a forum attended by various entities, including the Social Development Department of the province.
The program was then repeated in 2021 and 2022.
In the last course, we young people, in addition to collaborating in the distribution of food parcels, organized a business forum where successful white entrepreneurs came to the suburbs for the first time, to share experiences and expertise with small businessmen from other racial groups, despite the strong racism inherited from the apartheid regime.
We then organized an awareness campaign on alcohol and drug abuse in which we involved various actors such as the social section of the police, the health ministry, pastors of some churches, etc.
Amongst us young people who took part in the course, over these two years, some have found jobs, others have enrolled in university or vocational courses, thus indicating to many other young people like us that yes, it is possible to be the change!
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