Mitchell’s Plain youth want to be the change in their community and contribute to making South Africa more peaceful.
At a community dialogue hosted by the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) at Oval North High School on Saturday February 22, Westridge resident Chandre Fortune saluted each of her guests and made the youthful audience feel that they had a role to play in ensuring a safer community.
“We want change. We want peace in our community and we can get that if we stand together as one,” she said.
And emphasising the influence young people can have on each other, she added: “Yes, we cannot control the crime. Yes we cannot stop the gangsters from shooting. But just imagine I am a peace ambassador so now I’m making her a peace ambassador (too). I don’t know who she comes into contact with in her life.
“And that is how we can bring about change – by hooking each other in and at the end of the day yes, we are not going to have a peaceful country but at least we have made a contribution towards the peace in our country.
Ms Fortune was flanked by her fellow trainer of trainees (TOTs) Joseph Jacobs, Abdullatief Davids, both from Beacon Valley, and Lerverne Davids, from Portland, and supported by youth from Manenberg, Bonteheuwel, Khayelitsha and Athlone.
The initiative, founded by American actor and social activist Forest Whitaker, was launched in Bridgetown, in August last year, after having been established in America, Mexico, South Sudan and Uganda.
Mr Whitaker visited the Athlone site and also spoke to pupils at Cedar High School of the Arts, in Rocklands in November (“Peacemaker network uplifts youth”, Plainsman, November 27 2019).
Mr Jacobs said each of the youth should take a personal interest in their safety and see what they can do to help others.
The TOTs have been tasked with joining hands with other Mitchell’s Plain organisations and groups to promote peace interventions.
Mr Davids said they were being taught mediation and conflict resolution skills, which they would like to share with the community.
The youth are receiving training in peace initiatives, information technology and entrepreneurship, who their work into the communities they are from.
They are in the process of becoming social development ambassadors, by learning how to engage with residents to mediate conflicts and foster peace.
Guest speaker Moefeeda Kagee Salie, head for Social Development and Early Childhood Development in Area South, shared with the teenagers, what she would have told her 18-year-old self, when she started volunteering at National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO), in Eastridge.
“I would say it is going to be ok. Be brave and be kind.”
She recalled not being academically inclined and that she would not waste her parents money on going to study after matric.
“So, I took a year to find myself and through this I got to study.
“They (NICRO) would not enable my laziness, my ineptitude and my mediocrity.
“They constantly reminded me to do better. I can be better. It does get better but for that to happen you must do better,” she said.
Ms Kagee-Salie said her volunteerism taught her to be at peace with herself, which she could emanate to those around her.