The rationale for selecting the Central Karoo as a focus point for our youth programme was based on the fact that our research indicates that a considerable amount of child domestic workers originate from the Central Karoo region. Thus the beneficiaries of this project were:
• Vulnerable youth aged between the ages of 14-18,
• Youth who have been involved in child domestic work or are either at risk of becoming child domestic workers
• Potential victims of child trafficking
Participants for the project for 2009 are being selected from the Central Karoo towns of Beaufort West, Leeu-Gamka, Laingsburg, Merweville and Murraysburg. Each participant would be part of a year long programme and would be entrusted with the responsibility of imparting the skills learned to other peers and children within their communities. Imparting skills through workshops offered on the youth camps will inevitably necessitate and encourage the children to form an organized collective amongst themselves within their respective towns.
The youth programme was devised with the intention of affecting positive change in the lives of rural youth through a process of life skills and skills training. The intended objective of this project is to tackle the root causes of child labour by equipping vulnerable youth with viable alternatives to sustain themselves. Like its name, the Masenzeni Ushintsho Project not merely intends to improve the quality of these children’s lives but endeavours to capacitate them to become catalysts for change within their communities.
The MU project is currently focusing on the following programmes:
Life Skills Holiday Camp Programme
This programme will consist of four seasonal camps that will be conducted within the school holidays. Fifty children will be accommodated during each camp and they will be selected from Murraysburg, Beaufort West, Leeu Gamka, Merweville and Laingsburg. The programme will reach 200 children directly. The content that will be covered during the workshops is:
• Human Trafficking
• 11 principles of morality through a life skills course
• Leadership and self expression
• Fabric painting
• Career guidance
The camps provide a platform to educate these youth about their basic human rights through fun, educational activities. It also teaches participant healthy, productive activities and ways of thinking as alternatives to that which they may experience in their home environments. The camps are safe, nurturing environments where participants should feel free to share experiences.
Local Youth Groups and programmes
After return from the camp, it is intended that the participants will form a youth group consisting of the participants that attended the camp. To help initiate this, on the final day of the camp five individuals will be elected by their peers to form a Youth Steering Committee (YSC). The Youth Steering Committee will take on the responsibilities required to ensure the functioning of the youth group on their return home. Also while on the camp, an Assets Assessment Workshop will be conducted with the group. Using the results from this Asset Assessment, the participants will start to design and put in place a strategic plan of the programmes they will embark on with the commencement of the youth groups. The youth groups will give the participants the opportunity to put into practice that which they have learnt on the camp. These youth group meetings will also provide these youth members with an opportunity to become involved in alternative activities to gangsterism, drug and alcohol abuse.
Urban-Rural Adoption Programme
The purple bead bracelets that are created by the youth that attend the MU camps act as an awareness raising tool for human trafficking, the focus of another Anex CDW programme: Stop the Trafficking Of Persons (S.T.O.P.). An information card is attached to the bracelet that provides all the necessary details on human trafficking, especially in South Africa. The beading skills will be imparted to participants on the camp. Once the participants have completed the camp and have returned home, beading sessions will be seen as one of the regular activities as part of their Youth Group meetings. Anex CDW will provide the participants will the necessary materials to commence with the production of bracelets and bookmarks such as the chord and various kinds of beads. Anex CDW will buy back these Bracelets and bookmarks from the participants. The bracelets and bookmarks will be given to various schools in Cape Town that have adopted the project and they will be sold by these students. In this way, the youth of the towns in the Central Karoo are engaging in a fun, safe activity that generates some form of income for the youth group and the MU project can start to become more self sustainable.