Youth on the mend help peers

2015-07-23 06:01

Sthandile Magwaxaza, 23, the founder of Ntlantle Community Development Health Care and Phumzile Makili, Social Worker at Community Bible Society (both on the right hand side) and youth who attend the programmes, in Khayelitsha. 


Sthandile Magwaxaza, 23, the founder of Ntlantle Community Development Health Care and Phumzile Makili, Social Worker at Community Bible Society (both on the right hand side) and youth who attend the programmes, in Khayelitsha. PHOTO: Mbongis

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A church based mission to rehabilitate formerly delinquent youngsters continues to record positive results for their efforts, writes Mbongiseni Maseko.

The Community Bible Society in Site C, has received highly deserved praised from a group of former gangsters and drug addicts, who claim that their bad habits have changed dramatically since they attended the rehabilitation programmes conducted under the auspices of the church.

Phumzile Makili, a Social Worker at the society, said they have compiled a programme based on imparting life-skills and spiritual lessons on the youth, and its all coming together.

“We transform them from hardened gangsters and drug addicts to community leaders. The teaching of Jesus are central to our endeavours.

We want them to know God and succeed in life. Initially their parents find it hard to believe that their children have changed. Some have since followed their children by joining the church, because of the change that they see in them.”

Part of the rehabilitation programmes involve taking the youth out on excursions like camping, during the June and December holidays.

They also help expose them to career guidance classes.

The programme has been running since 2007, and its recruits are between the ages of 14 and 35 years.

Only about 50 spaces are available for each intake.

“Shortage of space is always a challenge, as more and more youth numbers show interest in the project.”

Every end of term, 10 of the youngsters from each successful programme are always asked to stay behind as mentors to the new cadets.

Currently they also have four females who are part of the programme.

Makili said they also help school-drop-outs find their way back to the classroom again.

“We also offer bursaries for tertiary level students,” she shared.

According to her, about 150 youth from their project have since benefited from the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP); a key government initiative which offers work in short term projects in the areas from which they come, as a means towards sustainable livelihoods, and as an added sting in the fight against poverty and crime.

Makili also said they have recently formed an “exciting” partnership with the University of Western Cape (UWC) and also a newly formed organisation, Ntlantle Community Development Health Care.

Libanathi Bhula, 19, a former gangster, praised the project for making a positive impact in his life.

“I was a member of Vato group(gangster formation). My behaviour was bad. I would leave home and come back the following day. My parents were not happy about the things that I did. The reason for joining the gangsters was to attract attention from my peers. My life has changed for the better since becoming part of the programme.

Bhula said, at first, his parents did not believe that “I have changed, but my mother has since joined the church after seeing the difference in my life.

I am happy that there are people who take their time to put youth in the right track in society.”

Bhula dropped out of school in Grade 10 in 2012, but is now back and doing matric at Thembelihle High School.

He has already been promised a bursary towards his law studies, should he pass Matric. Sthandile Magwaxaze, 23, the founder of Ntlantle Community Development Health Care and a former gangster, said programmes rendered by his organisation are aimed at decreasing the level of crime in the area.

In the project, he always takes care to share his past experience in gangsterism and substance abuse and makes them aware of the pitfalls of such activities.

“I was involved in crime and substance abuse since 2007, which adversely affected my studies. I have since kicked the habit and use that experience to deter the youth from getting involved in such behaviour. I am proud to say I am now following a path towards achieving my dreams,” he shared.

A former tourism student at Northlink College, Magwaxaze said his delinquent behaviour saw him loose focus and fail in his studies. “I have since opted for a life with a purpose and helping others.”

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