A new training programme aimed at empowering young men and women from vulnerable areas, was recently launched in Bridgetown.The Youth Peacemaker Network Programme is the initiative of non-government organisation (NGO), Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI).With the programme, 46 talented young individuals will be able to become leaders, peacemakers and entrepreneurs in their communities. WPDI operates in countries and regions that are impacted by violence and poverty. The programme in Bridgetown is the first of its kind in South Africa. Similar programmes have successfully been presented in countries such as Uganda and South Sudan. To be chosen for the programme, men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 had to apply and then go for an interview. The programme manager, Chance Chagunda, and her assistant, Elsa Pienaar, welcomed the guests and the new recruits, who all attended the official opening. They congratulated the successful candidates, who are called “trainers of trainees”. Once they have successfully completed their year-long training, they will be taking over the training, hence the title “trainers of trainees”. In the spirit of giving back to the community, Chagunda added that they asked homeless people to assist with the revamp of the building where the training will be taking place. Once their work was done, they were paid for their services.Pienaar also congratulated the trainees and said she was happy for them. “I am beyond ecstatic, I am proud (of the group of trainees). For this (the introduction of the programme in South Africa) to get here took a lot of prayer,” she said.She gave a glimpse into what the course will entail. According to her, subjects such as business skills, entrepreneurship, information and communication technology form part of the curriculum. They’ll also learn more about conflict resolution and peace building. She emphasised those as the key components of the training.Joseph Jacobs and Kayla Isaacks, both from Mitchell’s Plain, are two of the new trainees.Isaacks said she is glad to be part of the project and says she is looking forward to acquiring new skills and implementing them. She said she hopes it will change her for the better and make her a good citizen.“I am here to learn, we are all on the same level and we will learn from each other to build ourselves up,” said Isaacks.Jacobs added he’ll be bringing his energy to the programme. “I’m a people’s person and I enjoy meeting new people in new environments. We all have a story to tell.” Businesses such as BNP Paribas and RCS are involved in the project.