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The heartbeat of 80/156 broken hearts, now joined in a joyous reach for a good life, creates a symphony that vibrates through the Carl Sithole Centre in Klipspruit, Soweto. It was named after this Major of The Salvation Army who devoted his life to bettering the lives of young people and so help them rise to the best of their ability and full potential.
Sadly, every child here has faced severe trauma, from the littlest three-year-olds to the almost adult eighteens. Abuse, neglect, parent alcoholism, chronic hunger through extreme poverty … all have played their role.
Being rescued by The Salvation Army, thanks to your help, has changed their lives. For many this is the first time they have a place to call home. The first time they know safety and security – and love. Your invaluable support, your compassion and understanding, not only of their need to survive, but to re build their lives makes the world of difference to their future prospects.
The Centre comprises four important facilities, each with its own building, each designed for its purpose.
Originally established in the 1930s as a home for young girls with behavioural problems, today Bethany Children’s Home is a place of safety for 60 girls, from ten to 18 years old, who come from dysfunctional families. This is another Salvation Army home where the children develop a sense of their own self-worth.
In 1993 we opened Bethesda House – the first home to accept abandoned children infected with HIV/AIDS. It particularly caters for the very young – 36 boys and girls aged from two to nine years.
On a completely different tack is the Carl Sithole Memorial Crèche where 60 pre-school kiddies are introduced to the more cerebral things of life – creativity, story-telling, discussion, music and spiritual guidance. Each day they enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch and two snacks. They’re also taught various life skills such hygiene – and are prepped for their first year at school. The young hearts in these three homes, like those in all similar Salvation Army facilities across the country, do not find extravagance or luxury, but they do find a priceless wealth of smiles, hugs, friendship, love and understanding. They are also made to feel welcome and important because someone really cares about them. These children are an integral part of the future of our country.
Also on the property of the Carl Sithole Centre is the governmental Bethany Combined Primary school. This facility adds an extra, exciting vibe to the Centre and caters for 300 children attending grades one to eight.
The Carl Sithole Centre is indeed a living monument to a man who had his heart in the right place.
Swaziland puts young people into business
Swaziland (Eswatini) has taken the incentive by setting up ambitious and exciting projects to combat the massive (50%) unemployment among the young. The Youth Development Project sponsored by the Norwegian Agency for Development Co operation – NORAD, is the main thrust of this dynamic programme. It is focussed on capacity building and enables young people to set up a business. It also covers participants’ training, providing seed capital and support for their business ventures. It involves two phases.
Community leaders identified 140 young adults (aged 18-30) living in the deep rural areas of Swaziland, to participate in this enterprise. They were trained to set up a business by learning how to prepare a business plan, draw up a budget, market their product or service, prepare financials, open a bank account and register a business. This was a one-year course offered by an external organisation, Junior Achievers.
Each participant must come up with a business idea, and with the supervision of a team co-ordinator, equipment is purchased, the business is registered, a bank account is opened. All business initiatives are the participant’s own ideas.
The selected 140 participants were split into seven business groups. Of these two were cattle feed lots – breeding cattle. Heifers are bought, with the long-term plan being to breed and will be sold when older. Other ideas include a restaurant, a catering business, a garden service, and two piggeries.
During Covid lockdowns some of these businesses had to be placed on hold. It was most encouraging to see how these young entrepreneurs took the initiative and moved forward with their business plans. One enterprising young man started a piggery at home, building his own structure and now has 40 pigs. So he is already trading.
Another group who live in Dlangeni, predominantly a farming community, approached their tribal authorities for some land and was granted five acres. The group consisting of 12 people worked really hard, digging and preparing a portion of the land in which to plant maize. They were extremely proud of their first crop, which they harvested and sold, using the money to fund their piggery business. Brick by brick they built the structure to house the pigs and then erected a fence around the property. They bought 50 three-month old piglets which they took to market three to four months later.
The catering business started by the group in Sidwashini is prospering. The business caters for all types of occasions, and not surprisingly they have found funerals currently to be most lucrative.
The garden service group is workingwith a number of municipalities in Mbabane. In addition to maintaining lawns they plant and imaginatively landscape.
One enterprising young man started a piggery at home, building his own structure and now has 40 pigs. So he is already trading.
The young people in all these groups are an asset to their communities and share their knowledge by telling their success stories to children in schools, to give them hope for a better future, and to encourage them to dream.
In these very rural areas most young people don’t have many opportunities after leaving school. Work is scarce. High youth unemployment exacerbates teenage pregnancies, crime and drug use.
Most of these youngsters come from very poor families, but despite this, in their culture, they are still expected to provide support for the rest of the family straight after leaving school. Some have been through the Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme. Now that they’re grown up the question is how can they be helped to become self-sufficient.
In Swaziland the respect for The Salvation Army is immense. We’ve even had support and advice from Department of Agriculture. Swaziland (Eswatini) is one of the five countries comprising the Southern Africa Territory, which is South Africa’s responsibility. The other three are Namibia, St. Helena and Lesotho.
This exciting program highlights the need for getting young people empowered through starting their own businesses. This is not only needed in Swaziland, but many sub-Saharan countries too, including South Africa. It is a wonderful example to be followed and as urgently as possible.
Following in giant footsteps
We are so impressed with the Youth Development Programme underway in Swaziland, we would like to talk further about its need in our own country. Our youth, too, has an exorbitantly high unemployment rate and there is desperate need to give them the same kind of empowerment. Starting their own business is certainly one way to overcome looking for a job. A tremendously exciting aspect of the Swaziland project is that when given the opportunities young people have stepped up – they just need guidance and mentorship. We have seen first-hand the businesses that are up and running in Swaziland and how they impact positively and stimulate communities.
“We’re helping to make their dreams come true,” comments Major Wright “Working with kids, we teach them to dream. Young adults don’t dream – life has become too hard for them. By giving hope these projects will overflow into other initiatives. It’s encouraging to see how young people really look after each other.”
There is much negativity associated with the youth of today but we need to remind ourselves of two truths. The first is that the future of our country is in their hands. Which makes it even more critical to create new avenues of self sufficiency. The second is that, if you give children a glimpse of what they could become, you can most likely turn their lives around. The growing experience is a vital indicator of their view of themselves, and of what their future may hold.
A child’s positive experiences will help develop the capacity to become a valuable and reliable adult with compassion, and cope with life’s many challenges. Reaching out to young people, and helping them ‘grow up’ with a positive attitude is a vital facet of the work of The Salvation Army.
Following in the footsteps of Swaziland would create a new kind of society and solve one of our many problems, that of youth unemployment. Let us hope that imaginative business people will take heed and get similar projects underway here. While Swaziland’s footsteps might be small, they are having a giant impact.
Where there’s a will …
As we all know, that very familiar saying ends off with a wonderful promise … there is a way. But what if there’s no Will?
I am, of course, talking about a document that ensures the things you love will be passed on to those you love.
Probably because of all the deaths we are now experiencing from the corona virus, which seems never-ending, and the recent shocking violence in our country, suddenly everyone seems to be talking about making a Will. A colleague, a widow for many years, felt she had nothing to leave her grandsons as everything she has is too ‘girlish’. A bachelor piped up with the opposite problem – all his heirs are nieces and all his goods are macho! At least people are realising how important it is to make a Will, without which chaos and misery can occur. Often there’s a lot of stuff no family member wants – excess furniture for instance. To solve this problem, a lot of kind and thoughtful people are adding a clause to this effect “The remainder of my estate to be donated to The Salvation Army.”
Of course if you are in a position to donate financially, you can be certain that your bequest will go to a magnificent cause, helping thousands of the most deserving people on Earth, from new-born babies to those reaching their end, of all colours and creeds.
Should you choose to include us in your Will, you can speak to our legacy fundraising officer, Ethresia van Staden, on 011 718 6751. All discussions will be in strict confidence. Or of course you can speak to your lawyer or financial adviser about your last wishes.
If you have already included us in your Will, we thank you sincerely and gratefully. God bless you.
AN ARMY IN ACTION
Winter 2021. An extremely cruel winter for South Africa. The third wave of Covid 19 swept through our country so fiercely, morgues and cemeteries could not cope with the death toll. Then violence and vicious theft through looting hit KZN and Johannesburg, the heart of Gauteng. The country became like a war zone.
Because of the lock-downs, people lost their jobs, their homes. They became desperate. The Salvation Army found more people knocking on our doors than ever before. Young people, old people, families with children, the homeless and disabled.
The demand for food, blankets to lessen the pervasive chill, and clothing, was phenomenal. Looting in areas such as Soweto left stores empty of food. To reach stocks, people had to take taxis – which they could not afford. Busses and trains no longer exist. Starvation was a constant threat.
The Salvation Army immediately prepared for battle. After all, our ministry’s mission is to care! But putting care into action comes at a cost. After the unlawful uprising in KZN, our corps (churches) throughout the province set up food distribution centres. In Durban central and Imbali, the worst hit communities, we also assisted with cleaning up operations.
As you can see from this, the cost of putting care into action is massive, and these events plus the Covid 19 consequences have severely strained our resources. It is thanks to your selfless support, your understanding of our need to assist those more unfortunate than ourselves, that we are able to continue our mission. With you helping us fly The Salvation Army flag, we will win!
Captain Velani Buthelezi
Public Relations Secretary
Southern Africa Territory