Once the problem, now the solution

2016-07-05 06:00
Philisanda, Mduduzi, Esakhe, Colonel Bongani Mtakati (Hout Bay station commander), Dr Welcome Witbooi (Community Cohesion Programme facilitator), Bongani, Anda and Monde.

Philisanda, Mduduzi, Esakhe, Colonel Bongani Mtakati (Hout Bay station commander), Dr Welcome Witbooi (Community Cohesion Programme facilitator), Bongani, Anda and Monde.

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Community Cohesion in Hout Bay is doing their bit to help youth, in conflict with the law, to become better citizens.

This non-profit organisation helps teens by setting them back on track. Most of these boys and girls, aged between eight and 17, come from Imizamo Yethu. Instead of being sent to prison, they are encouraged to join Community Cohesion’s The Doorway programme.

“This programme is aimed at minors in conflict with the law, and is for both girls and boys,” says Bronwyn Moore, director of Community Cohesion. “The objective is to keep them out of jail and get them either back into school or into further training.”

Started four years ago, they are funded in part for their Victim Empowerment Programme by the Department of Social Development. They are funded for their One School at a Time (Osat) by Swiss Re Africa, and per programme roll-out for Men of Honour and The Doorway by private donors living in the service delivery areas.

Their service delivery areas are Hout Bay, Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Fish Hoek, Simon’s Town and Woodstock.

Moore went on to say many organisations work with troubled youth in schools.

“We were dealing with the fallout of the youth who had no guidance nor parental input, and most of the time were left to their own devices. In partnership with the Community Police Forum, we work very closely with the police to figure out some kind of solution for these minors – something other than giving up and saying there is nothing that can be done with them.”

The programme is an intensive repositioning and reframing of their views, their lives and their goals.

Many of the the participants are too old to enter the formal schooling system at the grade they last passed, so they were enrolled at Sijonga Phambili. They have their fees paid for the six-month long programme. However, they also have to “pay” for their petty crimes by washing police cars at Hout Bay police station every Monday. “This is their giveback for their school fees at Sijonga Phambili being covered. They started out at the wrong end of the police, being apprehended doing petty crime, and now are giving back by being seen as part of a solution as opposed to a problem,” says Moore.

Community Cohesion requieres R12 000 per month to run the programme in a specific area. This covers the cost of two facilitators who run the programme every Monday from 10:00 to 13:00 and Thursday from 17:00 until 19:00 each week for a six-month period.

This covers the costs of providing lunch for the boys and supper for the girls. “It is a very successful programme and we are very happy at the response from the boys.”

It is early days and they still have a way to go, yet they have solidly said goodbye to their past and are trying to determine their future, Moore says. “We do not do anything for our clients – we educate them as to their rights and responsibilities and walk the path with them to claiming those rights, ultimately enabling them to take ownership of their lives.”

They are planning to expand The Doorway and Men of Honour programmes in Masiphumelele in the 2016/2017 financial year and Ocean View in the 2017/2018 financial year. “If we are able to secure funding for these projects in both areas, we will roll out in Ocean View in the current financial year.V Contact Community Cohesion on 061 683 6943 or email bronwyn@communitycohesion.co.za or shirley@communitycohesion.co.za

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