**so I wrote this to put under the project tab but don’t have enough service to…so I will put it here instead.
Project Updates: Apparently many of you ask my family for updates here. I was mandated from the parents to either delete a project section or to actually write in it. So here we go. I am not going to retroactively write about them, but here is what is top of mind for me right now project facing.
A Space for Youth-
One of the first challenges presented to me by my community when I arrived was the need for a youth center. Meeting after meeting with stakeholders, community members, teachers, social workers and tribal leaders, a constant need presented was a space for youth to go. Simple as that. If there is no space to go, then the only other place people tend to gather is at taverns drinking.
One thing I try to do, with all the projects that I work on, is to ensure that it is community driven and lead, so that when I leave (a rapidly approaching time) then the projects will continue without me. A few other things to set the context of the youth center. Youth unemployment in SA is huge, coming in at 38.6%. Because of this, there are many people around the community with skills, talents and educations not being utilized. I told a group that if they did the leg work and were committed to starting a youth center, found a space to meet and were committed to showing up every day, that I would do everything that I could to help them get what they needed.
Well my friends, they accepted the challenge! Every day, without pay, a small group of youth show up at our very own youth center. The house and property we use was given to them by the tribal authority in our area, and it is now a dedicated space to have a youth center. They have brought a personal computer and table and a few chairs from home. Every day for the past few months, they have been showing up to the center.
So now, it is my turn. We have multiple projects that were are trying to run, just waiting on supplies. We have written a few grants trying to get funding for computers, paper, pens, chairs tables ect, all the things we need to kick off our computer literacy program. This we plan to teach computer literacy and skills while using content that is HIV related.
We have asked community members, neighboring communities and businesses to help by donating to purchase sports equipment. With this, we have someone who just finished university who is going to teach nutrition and exercise classes and teach about maintaining healthy lifestyles.
We have another person who will be running Grass Roots Soccer, and HIV & Stigma reduction training that incorporates sport and activities to teach children.
On top of these programs, the center wishes to be a space to provide homework help after school, assistance with college applications, and a space to help get jobs. To promote this, we are doing everything from resume and CV assistance, to job applications, to practice interviews for the big day.
I am really blown away by the continued dedication of my peers. They are showing up and donating their time for the betterment of the community. Additionally, they are acting as mentors to additional youth who wish to study or work in any of the related fields. Together, they are providing spaces for activities and betterment of youth as a whole in the community.
We may not have many of the “things” we need for the center yet, but we have the people! We are continuing to look for ways that we can get what we need to fully ramp up, and in the interim continue to run programs with what we have.
More project updates to come!!