Thato to work for peace

2019-12-03 06:00
Thato Monyelo from Kuils River.

Thato Monyelo from Kuils River.

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To be chosen as one of the Trainer of Trainees for the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) in Bridgetown is an honour for Thato Monyelo from Kuils River.

The WPDI was established and opened by the Hollywood actor Forest Whitaker earlier this month. Before he visited Bridgetown, he paid a visit to Cedar High in Lentegeur, Mitchell’s Plain, and encouraged the learners to work for peace in the area known for gang violence.

“I think the word happy does not explain how excited I am being one of the 45 Capetonians selected to be trainers. If I have to describe my day at the centre, it would be a day of fulfilment and a step closer to changing my community. My work at the centre would also help me become a better person,” she says.

Thato says she is worried about violence in her neighbourhood and the fact that residents are not safe at their homes.

Her biggest concern is the high rate of abuse in her community, especially rape.

“I hope to make a difference by doing the peace training in my community in order for the community to become a lot better. I have a desire to work with women and girls to empower and motivate them to become the best version of themselves,” Thato says.

To try and make a difference in her community she works closely with the residents.

“I cannot describe the feeling when I met Whitaker for the first time. It was unbelievable and it brought joy to my heart.

“You see all these actors in films or on screens and never dream of meeting them in person,” she says.

Forest told the trainers that they have to develop a world perspective and not think locally only.

Thato’s message to her community is that peace does not rest in charters and covenants.

“The peace lies in the heart and mind of all people, so let us not rest all our hopes on parchments and paper. Let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace,” she says.

The five-year programme – in partnerhip with global French Bank BNP Paribas and their local subsidiary, RCS – works to support the 45 Capetonians to educate 350 youth from communities across Cape Town. The trainers will become social development ambassadors who can mediate conflicts and foster peace. Forest’s WPDI Youth Peacemaker Network Programme promotes the power of youth for peace and sustainable development on the Cape Flats.

The social development ambassadors were chosen in August, based on their personal experience and ability to act as change agents in their communities.

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