Empowering underprivileged youth

2012-06-14 00:00

A DESIRE to help children living in impoverished areas in the city has inspired one woman to start a new youth-development project, Educate 2 Empower.

“The concept originated in my lounge one evening, while I was watching the news with my mom,” Shainaaz Dawood, who lives in Aurora Place, said.

“With the escalating crime and poverty rate, our children feel that they don’t have a future. Depression is prevalent among young children and teenagers, and the suicide rate is increasing. Drug and alcohol abuse is also becoming a pandemic trend among the youth.

“[But] I realised that there is so much that can be done to help children who are underprivileged and come from low-income households.”

Dawood, who currently works as a receptionist at the Pietermaritzburg Association for the Aged (Pafta), visited a number of local schools in the Northdale area, and spoke to principals about the needs of their pupils. What they told her is that financial problems mean many families are unable to pay school fees, while others struggle to buy clothing and stationery for their children.

Educate 2 Empower aims to help those in great need, and to give young people the chance to express their creativity through music, dance, writing, poetry, fashion design and acting.

“Because these children can’t afford school fees, the idea of doing something like a dance class is just a dream. There is so much potential out there, which is not being exposed. I want to give children the opportunity to shine,” Dawood, who matriculated at Kharina Secondary School, said. “I have been speaking to a lot of dancers, music teachers and even a fashion design student in the community, and all of them are willing to offer classes on Saturdays at different schools in the area.”

In the long term, Dawood would love to be able to open her own premises and to provide children with transport to and from classes. For now though, she is planning a fundraiser to get the project off the ground, and is appealing to local residents for their support.

The Gharam Masala Chutney and Nagara Night, which is being hosted by Shazzy D Productionz, will take place at the Sabha Hall in Bombay Road, at 6 pm on June 22.

The evening will feature the talents of the Flash Entertainers, and will include a glamorous gran competition and loads of lucky draw prizes.

Grannies who would like to enter the glamorous gran contest, should phone 082 089 0306 or 078 604 6295. These numbers can also be used to buy the R40 tickets to the show. Tickets are also available at Premier Services at 574 Old Greytown Road.

“I can’t thank Rakesh Dhanilal of Premier Services enough,” Dawood said. “Not only has he sponsored all my publicity, but he has been my mentor and moral support for this project. He has been inspirational, and has kept me positive.”

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