Youth development where it’s needed most
I have been conducting oversight visits to different Western Cape Department of Social Development facilities along the Garden Route and in the Klein Karoo.
I am encouraged by the incredible work our non-profit partner, SUFF Academy (Southern Youth Film Festival) is doing in Oudtshoorn and neighbouring regions. SUFF manages four Youth Cafes in Oudtshoorn, George, Uniondale, and Riversdale. Here, young people get training in accredited courses in digital literacy, coding, robotics, digital entrepreneurship, and so much more.
There are 12 youth cafes in the province, each one with different focuses in youth development.
SUFF’s acting CEO, Annique Arris, says the training they offer is not only limited to the Youth Cafes they manage. They have extended their services to rural areas, like Murraysburg and Kannaland, as well as Mossel Bay and Knysna. They also offer training to the Outeniekwa House, a Child and Youth Care Centre in George, which I visited. This provides the young boys at this facility a chance to use their time at this safe space productively, equipping them with the necessary skills needed in the digital age where computer literacy is so vital to success.
Arris says they also started an after-school agriculture programme for children in January, to encourage them to consider a career in the agriculture sector by working in a food garden and getting career advice.
“We’ve noticed not all the children want to do digital training, so we started this programme for those who want to work with their hands. It’s a new project. The provincial Department of Social Development has funded the first two gardens for us in Uniondale, one of which is at a high school,” says Arris.
With unemployment levels among youth between the ages of 15 and 34 at 46%, it is imperative that programmes like the Youth Cafes are supported. The work SUFF is doing is proof that partnerships between government NGOs, citizens, and the private sector, are key to making a difference in communities.
I made sure to thank each person involved in shaping young minds and assisting them in creating brighter futures, because these are our future leaders. I am eager to visit the other youth programmes in the province to see what is being achieved.