As an alternative to the social evils to which the youth are exposed in their communities – where shootings and killings are an everyday occurrence – tuition in music and sailing is being offered to the youth in Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Red Hill and Simon’s Town.This is thanks to the Izivunguvungu MSC Foundation for Youth by Commander Mike Oldham from Simon’s Town. “My main aim is to engage young people in music, keeping them away from street problems which often involve drugs, gangs and all other social issues. Secondly, some of those who stay in the projects become competent musicians and/or sailors, aiding their general and social development,” Oldham says.One of the music students – the first ever – has been accepted at the University of Cape Town College of Music this year. Several sailors have become national champions in the “Mirror” class in recent years.“The socioeconomic situation has unfortunately deteriorated since 1996, with growing crime and drug-related problems. Late last year our youngest music student, aged nine, was shot dead in a crossfire incident in Ocean View. “The father of our 10-year-old member of our sailing team that competed at the Zeekoevlei Regatta was shot dead at his home,” he says.Lessons are sometimes cancelled due to violence and shootings during the day.“Fortunately the community liaison contacts keep us informed and warned when violence erupts or shootings take place. Anti-drug projects are utilised, including messages in music and song as part of the community projects.”According to Oldham, the project started as a South African Navy outreach project, when he was the director of Navy Music. He says that when he retired in 2005, he set up the youth foundation as a non-profit organisation. “The music project originally started in 1996 at Kleinberg Primary. At the school we started with a drug banner where learners were invited to print their paint-covered hands on the wall as a sign of support,” Oldham says.He adds: “In these economically difficult times we find, like many others, that funding has dried up. Fortunately, we have a stock of equipment, although it is becoming old and frequently in need of repair. “Any assistance of whatever form will be much appreciated as it will help the youth in the area.”V Continued on page 3.