Where we are
Based on our own experiences as well as readings and interviews with young people in Kayamandi and Vlottenburg, we have compiled a list of some of the challenges that prevent the youth from realizing their greatest potential. We believe these challenges might be universally applicable to youth from previously disadvantaged and under served communities. Examples of some of the challenges that are faced include but are not limited to the following:
The youth are faced with the obvious socio-economic challenges associated with living in previously disadvantaged and currently underserved communities. These include (but are not limited to) income poverty, inadequate and unhealthy housing, a deficient schooling system, high incidences of crime and many forms of abuse.
Poor lifestyle choices also lead to unhealthy friendships, drug and alcohol abuse, reckless sexual behaviour with resultant unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and STD’s and high incidences of early school dropout.
As a generalisation it can be said that the Apartheid era essentially shaped a community of people conditioned not to think for themselves. The ultimate injustice came about when communities were conditioned to have a certain pre-programmed view of themselves and the world they inhabit. This generated identity usually paired communities as superior or inferior with the division along colour and racial lines. Unfortunately this legacy has been passed down by parents to younger generations. Amongst others this resulted in what can be called a “learned helplessness” amongst people from what was previously known as coloured and black communities. Learned helplessness essentially weakens communities to the point of not being able and willing to take responsibility for the welfare of their own community.
Lack of exposure to opportunities and resources - In general, youth in under serviced communities have little exposure to cultural events, places of societal and historical interest, and other sources of learning other than what exists in their home communities. The lack of access (and general ignorance) towards mass media sources (television, radio, newspapers, and internet) prevents a knowledge and understanding of current events.
Lack of role models - The majority of adults that interact with the youth are blue collar workers, farm workers, domestic workers, or unemployed. These adults have not completed school and testify to not being able to assist their children with school work or career planning, therefore the crucial years of child development are left void of mentors and/or role models.
Because of the impact that poverty has on so many aspects of their lives, children suffer in the short and long-term and few dream of a brighter future. It is against this background that we operate in the Kayamandi Township and the wider Vlottenburg farming community.