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Day after day, on radio programmes in our beloved country, the major discussions centre around the desperate need for investment and the horrifying unemployment – particularly youth unemployment.
So many of our young leave school because they can’t afford an education. And the family needs money, now. So you know what options that leaves them.
Of the thousands upon thousands of people The Salvation Army has been helping since our foundation here in the 1800s so many have been little children. Some just a day old! Yes, we’ve taken them in as babies, as pre-school-goers, as disturbed teenagers, as unwed mothers, saved them from human trafficking
But all this, while vitally necessary, is not enough in today’s world. We know that to equip tomorrow’s leaders – and of course today’s youth are our future – we need to ‘teach them to fish’, not just provide them with a meal.
And so we created a department that is dedicated to nurturing the youth of this country – students who need help to prepare for university, over 21s who feel outside their communities’ activities. And because so many can only attend school at an older age than most school-goers, we’ve widened the definition of ‘youth’ to include 30-year olds.
Salvation Army youth prove their worth
We encourage even kids to be involved in our own community activities – which gives them the opportunity to practice The Army’s philosophy Heart to God, hand to man. This also gives us the opportunity to identify and promote possible leaders.
It has been incredible, for instance, to see the way our Bonteheuwel Corps (Church) youth have stepped in to help in this gang-war-ravaged, high-crime area. They have helped fearlessly in our soup kitchens to get food to the needy. And shared in our street prayers, proving their strength through faith.
We ensure that our young people are given the opportunity to attend our workshops and conferences, which helps them become inspired and motivated.
Thembu Rasiuba (24), a young woman from the very poorest township in Limpopo, became so motivated at one of our workshops, within no time at all she set up her own small business, buying bread and re-selling it to people in her community. Her initiatives and efforts have grown her business into a Spaza shop, selling a range of convenience goods.
Education still a priority
A school drop-out because of financial difficulties, she is now registered for part-time tertiary education. “I have developed inter-personal skills, the ability to think critically, solve problems, gain self-confidence and understand marketing. But I know education is essential to get to the top – and stay there.” Thembu’s future knows no bounds.
Then there was a young group from our Catherine Booth Corps in eastern KZN who were motivated to start poultry farming. This they did with great enthusiasm.
However they soon realized that poultry is over-traded in that part of the world, but did not give up. The entrepreneurial bug had bitten so they explored their options and started selling shisanyama – braai meat – for which there is a large market. This innovative idea is now paying off.
With growing surprise and interest the community watched the growth of this young people’s project – and its side effect. It prompted one of their ladies to expand her business from making and selling ‘fat cakes’ (vetkoekies) to sell complementary cooked food as well!
Shaping the young is exciting and rewarding. And you can help us shape the future of this country by supporting The Salvation Army’s on-going projects to stimulate the youth whose futures we have been chosen to mould.
God bless you for caring.
Major Carin Holmes
Public Relations Secretary
Southern Africa Territory
PS: Right now we’re measuring the young people we know, as we measure things throughout our lives. And this has prompted us to give you the enclosed mini- ruler to be a useful measure in your life – and a reminder of your help in shaping the future.