About 190 students graduated from Chrysalis Academy on Saturday 24 November. Graduates had completed a three-month long 18 Bravo programme aimed at empowering women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students came from areas including Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Hanover Park, Plettenberg Bay, George, Mossel Bay, Knysna, Beaufort West, Saldanha, Hermanus, Piketberg, Albertina, Van Rhynsdorp and Worcester. During the programme, students performed community service in Lavender Hill and Westlake as part of the academy’s strategy to cultivate active citizenship. Sinazo Khumalo said she is grateful for the experience she gained from the programme because it is going to open many doors for her.“My life was difficult before getting the opportunity. I had no job because I did not have any qualification and when I saw the opportunity I wanted to grab it with both hands. Now I am currently working as an office assistant at a traffic department in Saldanha and I am happy now.”She encouraged the youth to look out for opportunities that offer skills they are interested in, and to work hard to get good results. “It takes time to get what you want in life, especially if you are not financially secured. Make every opportunity count.”Another graduate, Nomaphelo Sobetwa, said it is opportunities like this that give the youth hope to be proactive despite their circumstances. Sobetwa said it is only through programmes such as this that the high rate of unemployment among the youth can be reduced. In his keynote address, provincial community safety minister Alan Winde said: “The graduates should be proud of completing the programme. They have a responsibility to use their acquired knowledge and skills to continue uplifting themselves and their communities. I want to encourage all the graduates to be positive role models in their communities, as our province needs everyone’s active participation, particularly that of the country’s youth, to ensure a safer Western Cape.” He said the academy received funding of R13 327 000 to run its programmes throughout the 2017/2018 financial year.The graduates will be placed at municipalities across the province, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Chrysalis Academy, hospitals and clinics, community improvement districts as well as police stations.