So, recently, our team went looking for a suitable school to partner with us for a Youth Month project. I'm not of the belief that I need to share the school name so I'll focus on the principles. We developed a proposal that offered Grade 12 students the chance to engage with fashion design and modelling as potential avenues of career, following completion of Matric.
As per the usual, we offered our time, our expertise and to cover the costs associated with the project. Anyone who has ever attended a CAFB workshop, or a live event, knows full well that we strive to represent the spirit of Ubuntu every day. We genuinely want good things for people.
Apart from the run-around that Devashnie got, even trying to find one school to focus on, I felt a pang of dismay. I knew we needed to plan in advance and try to set up a meeting and build rapport with the decision-makers at a school, and show them the vision we had of a unified youth and community. I wanted so badly to show them our track record, and to prove that even just one of their students could find a worthwhile opportunity through the work that we do.
Alas, the people in charge didn't care for such a programme. We were asked to call back and have the call records to prove that we made over 30 attempts to arrange a meeting. We heard back that there had been an incident of violence at the school sometime between our first and final attempt to engage with the school's leadership, and knew that this kind of establishment really did need us to intervene and meet the students at a level they found easy to connect over.
By now you notice that my tone has become very curt, and I'll tell you why in a moment. The story continues, that the school Secretary fed us stories of the Principal being unavailable, requesting us to call back at 2pm then the following day at another time, and when Devashnie called in, she got the same story. Eventually, I think Devashnie even reached a boiling point and tried to highlight to the Secretary that due to such incidents taking place on their premises, they in fact needed us far more than they even realised, and it wouldn't even cost them a cent. A disheartening comment from the Secretary to "maybe just leave it" hit home for me in late April.
How on earth do we expect the headlines in our newspapers to change if we're not willing to help change the kind of activities our people engage in? One might think their children are safe and being constructively encouraged in a school environment, but it appears more children are developing fear and anxiety than anything else - no wonder home schooling is on the rise! It's unusual for me to write a blog post that comes across as filled with sorrow, but I've seen the best of South Africa and I know what we're capable of. This blatant disregard and apathy from the people we entrust to shape our children into respectable leaders of the future - we cannot and should not just silently accept it.
Evil wins when good people do nothing - we've heard this said in many different ways. What I'm asking you right now is if those newspaper headlines affect you and if crime bothers you and is forcing you to move into prison-style complexes or apartment blocks; if you "wish" you could do something then why don't you help us connect with more children? It costs you next to nothing to connect a child with a programme that's going to benefit him/her and, later on in his/her life, benefit many others in actual fact.
My disappointment in the way the leadership of some schools brush off holistic youth development inspires me to work harder and do even more to connect with youth. If we as adults are the barriers to children developing lateral thinking ability, effective coping mechanisms for complex emotions and thoughts, and enhancing creative talent, can we really all go to sleep peacefully at night? We have the responsibility to make life better for each other, or at the very least for ourselves, and it starts with us - the change starts with us!
If you want to change the world, start with you, start with your family, start with your children, your parents, your siblings, your neighbours, your classmates, your teachers, your students. Don't tell me you can't. Ask for help from our team and we'll prove to you that you're capable of changing the world. A better life for everyone begins with us. Click here to contact us if you have a project or a group of youth who need some inspiration in life.