Our new American intern Kim Davis learned about Youth Day and what it means to be young in Cape Town today.
Being young sucks. I should now. I thought I had problems until I came to Cape Town to work as an intern for the next two months.
In Cape Town, in addition to the usual problems young people face around the world, I’ve learned about how the country’s high unemployment affects South Africa’s youth in particular and how drugs and gangs are a way of life for many of my peers in Cape Town.
Don’t get me wrong, we have gangs and drugs in Vancouver too, but sharing a workspace with two youth-focused non-profits committed to helping make Cape Town a better place for young people, I’ve realized that our problems are not quite on the same scale as here.
I chatted to Nate Roloff, Director of Safety Lab, an organization working to engage young peoplewith their One Community project, by creating “social mobility hubs that offer attractive alternatives” to be in the evening and on weekends, which is when most crimes occur. Says Nate: “We aim to offer young people an opportunity to be somewhere safe within their own community and where they will not be exposed to violence.”
At these hubs – the first, created in Nyanga is no longer active, but the Gugulethu site is – Safety Lab helps connect young people to services to get further help. Visit their YouTube channel to learn more.
Fight for Peace, which started in 2000 with a center in Rio de Janeiro and has since moved all over the world, is another organization that looks to help by using combat sports as a way to engage young people in tough communities. Seth Reynolds, Director of Fight for Peace South Africa, describes the people they help as “tough kids living in tough communities facing tough lives”. He explains that the organization uses sports to help young people realize their potential by teaching them self-control, boundaries, and discipline.
At the same time, the offer youth an outlet for their frustrations and often a paternal figure in their coach. The kids that Fight for Peace works with are traumatized by what they have seen during their lives – from violence, both inside and outside of the home, to drug and alcohol abuse. The safe and controlled environment provided by Fight for Peace gives the children space to be themselves.
Fight for Peace believes that Youth Day provides the perfect opportunity for the organization to promote youth activism and participation and to show young people that they can make a difference in their own lives and that of others.
This Youth Day, Fight for Peace is hosting an event for young people in Manenberg. There will be plenty to do with games, sports, and other fun things. Seth says: “This event will give young people a chance to reclaim their space.”
Friday, 16 June 2017
“The Greens” Sports Grounds, Manenberg — corner of Manenberg and Vygekraal Avenues
From 9am to 3pm
Kim is an intern from Vancouver, Washington. She is currently studying English at Seattle Pacific University.