Confronted by an unemployment rate north of 25%, there seems little for the country’s youth to celebrate on Youth Day, June 16, but there are those undaunted by the statistics who make their own opportunities and lead by example, and you can find some of them in the far south.
The unemployment picture in South Africa is even worse if you happen to be between the ages of 15 and 24. In that category, according to Stats SA, just shy of one third of the population (32.4% or 3.3 million people) are not in employment, education or training.
Entrepreneurship is key to turning that trend around, and that is exactly what Linda Wilson, founder of Pocket Money Market, is trying to do.
The non-profit tackles the long-term problem of youth unemployment by giving young people a chance to earn their own incomes now.
Linda helps young people become entrepreneurs by teaching them how to budget and market their products.
David Nogaga, a Grade 11 pupil at Masiphumelele High School is part of her programme.
When David saw the need for aftercare services in his community, he started a youth club at his Masiphumelele home, and pupils from all schools and grades are welcome.
He was inspired by his grandmother who used to provide children in her village with bread and soup after school.
“She was my inspiration,” he says.
Pupils get help with homework, school projects and assignments in a safe place. And at the end of the day, they get fruit and sandwiches.
David provides this service from Mondays to Thursdays, from 3.45pm until 5.30pm.
Passionate about his community and the youth, David is collecting books, pens, exam pads, exercise books, whiteboards with markers and fruit and bread to be used at his club.
“There is an improvement in the marks of many of the children we help and it makes me happy,” he says.
David is also part of Pocket Money Market’s busking team.
For more information about his youth project, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another member of Linda’s team is Leah Kay Bell-Leask, 16, of Kommetjie, who believes her purpose in life is to make a difference in the lives of others, starting close to home.
Leah has been involved in her community from a young age offering a helping hand where she can.
Her first project, while in primary school, raised R3 500 for the Sinethemba Special Care Centre in Masiphumelele by making and selling more than 300 bracelets with the help of a group of friends.
In September last year she and a team member trod water for 12 hours through the night and raised R35 000 for St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children in Cape Town.
“This is was one of the most challenging yet rewarding fund-raisers I have undertaken,” she says.
In March she visited a safe house in Tokai with her school’s Interact group and fell in love with the children there.
“I knew from the moment I stepped onto the property that I had to help them.”
She and her friends worked through the April school holidays and built a new rabbit therapy touch enclosure and a braai area. They also set up recycling bins, painted several spaces and created a space the children can do their homework on a blackboard.
Leah has also helped at Ikhaya Labantwana Creche in Masiphumelele. She and other volunteers arranged dresses for the girls from Dress a Girl Around the World. “There was so much joy,” she says.
The Reddam House pupil says that giving back to your community needn’t take up much time.
“Earlier this year I took a bunch of Reddam students to Ikhaya Labantwana Creche to play with the kids, face paint, blow bubbles and eat some sweets. It only took two hours and in those two hours we made a huge difference in the lives of the children.”
She says real happiness doesn’t come from getting a new pair of shoes, receiving 90% for a test or eating a spoon of peanut butter, it comes from making a difference in someone else’s life.
“I firmly believe we rise by lifting others,” she says.
The Pocket Money Market musicians will be performing outside the Watershed in front of the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront on Youth Day, Saturday June 16, from 11am 2.30pm. For more information about the list of programmes that Linda runs, call her on 083 384 0590 or visit www.