At Simunye, we aim to provide a comprehensive life skills training course.
We empower our youth through both HIV/AIDS and broader health education to enable them to take charge of their own lives and well-being, as well as to help educate others in the community.
In order to foster economic sercurity for our youth, Simunye designs and runs workshops to promote savings and budgeting, CV writing and job interviewing skills.
We provide computer typing and training sessions for our youth. Many of these young adults have only heard of computers or seen them on TV. To give them the opportunity to sit down at a real computer and learn how to type and use the internet is a life changing experience. Giving the youth an opportunity to gain typing skills not only empowers them but also gives them a better chance of getting a job as computer literacy is often a requirement.
Through these various workshops, our youth are able to develop a wide range of skills which will help them negotiate and overcome the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, gender discrimination, violence, and unemployment. By the end of the course, the youth have developed powerful skills in communication, leadership, creativity, confidence and public speaking.
At SYDP we believe in empowering our out-of-school youth through community service projects to provide them with something healthy and productive to do until they can find a permanent job.
Peer HIV Education
Over the year, we have trained over 100 youth to be HIV Peer Educators. The training focuses on vital issues like HIV transmission, prevention and treatment, how the immune system works, stigma surrounding HIV and sexual abuse. Furthermore, many over our youth have gone on to train additional groups of HIV peer educators in their communities.
The peer educators conducted over 1,600 surveys testing the knowledge of HIV/AIDS in the community, as well as educating community members about HIV in the rural areas where they live. Additionally, our youth have also written and performed several short plays about HIV/AIDS which they have performed at community events, a great tool to educate community members about HIV, especially those who are illiterate. Written entirely by the youth themselves, the plays portray a clear and honest picture of the realities of the disease they see on a day to day basis.
The results have been tremendous with an average of over 20% improvement rate per question from pre to post survey as well as numerous people now talking about the disease in areas where it was rarely discussed. We are continuing to spread the peer education trainings throughout Weenen and Msinga so more out of school youth can become involved. We have trained several of our original HIV Peer Educators as workshop facilitators and they have already trained dozens of new community youth as Peer Educators.
Teenage Pregnancy Awareness
Over the past few months, our youth have run an extremely successful teenage pregnancy awareness campaign in schools throughout Weenen. They reached over 1,600 students, providing vital information about how to protect oneself from unwanted pregnancies, particularly young women who may face non-compliant partners.
Beginning one afternoon when two of the youth heard about a man in the community in particularly poor condition, our youth have included home visits in their portfolio of community service projects. Collecting, food, clothing, construction materials and garden supplies, the youth are helping to improve the lives of those less fortunate than themselves in the community one person at a time.
The youth have organized and participated in numerous community events. On Youth Day, a national holiday in South Africa commemorating the Soweto Uprising of 1976 and the students who were murder by the police during a peaceful protest, the youth in Weenen held a successful talent show for the youth in the community. Talents such as traditional dancing, singing and dramas were presented by the youth. In addition, there was HIV counselling and testing by the local clinic as well as HIV education throughout the day and condom demonstrations by the peer educators. Over 600 community members attended and we were even able to provide food thanks to vegetable donations from local farmers!
The youth in Msinga also held a successful Youth Day event. The youth raised money, advertised throughout the town of Tugela Ferry, and drew a crowd of nearly 200 young adults to their Youth Day activities. They organized relay races, soccer games, board games, singing and dancing and even a few health education presentations. In a town and region where recreational activities are tragically few and far between, circumstances which often result in alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy and HIV transmission, to see our youth not only provide such a crucial outlet for themselves but also for the greater community was truly moving.
Though these service projects have provided invaluable support to the community, this program has also tremendously helped the youth themselves. Whereas many once felt utterly hopeless without support and with little productive to do in life, our youth have a newfound passion for community service and development. Rather than being thrust into a life of substance abuse, crime or unprotected sex, our youth now have found a channel to simultaneously help both themselves and their community.
The unemployment rates in Msinga and Weenen are estimated at 70-80%, a burden borne disproportionately by young adults. The employment prospects for the average youth is tragically small. At Simunye, we have partnered withthe Department of Labour to assist youth in finding and applying for jobs to maximize their chances of finding employment. Additionally, we assist with writing updating our youth's CVs and run interview skills workshops.
Furthermore, to support those who are unable to find a job, we have partnered with several local organizations and businesses to start internship programs. Though these are short-term and do not pay full salaries, these internships help our youth acquire new skills and general work experience which will help them secure employment in the future.
Pursuing further education:
It is important to recognize that every youth is an individual and not all are interested in starting a business or in physical labour. Youth who want to further their studies through certificate or degree programs should have the opportunity and we assist them in applying and finding financial assistance.
Small Business Development
Our youth have received ABCDE (Asset Based Community Driven Development and Entrepreneurial) training. The purpose of this training is for the youth to recognize the assets in their community and to brainstorm ways to mobolize these assets to better themselves and the community at large. The youth also thought of different business projects they could start in their communities and formed and presented action plans on how to make these dreams a reality. We are working with the youth who are interested to write business proposals to apply for loans so they can actually get their businesses started! They have met with SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency) to start thinking about business development and execution.