Because of the role that was played by the youth in resisting an inhumane system in South Africa, particularly on 16 June 1976, after 1994, the democratic government declared June to be , Youth Month. Many activities are usually planned and speeches made to commemorate the 16 June 1976 youth uprising against being forced to be taught in Afrikaans which was not their mother tongue.
In 1976 the youth faced challenges of the time. Currently most young people are faced with complex challenges to name a few: unemployment, poverty, poor education, dysfunctional families, mental health issues, and many other social ills. To say the challenges are huge is an understatement.
The coronavirus pandemic added to the challenges that face young people. School going youth found themselves being locked down at home while unemployed youth also had to be locked down in poverty stricken homes that struggle to put food on the table. Online learning for some was possible whereas for others, the majority there was either no resource for unaffordable data or there no connectivity.
The pandemic caught the world by surprise and turned livelihoods upside down, shattering everything.
Our country did not escape the onslaught of the pandemic. The situation was compounded by an ailing economy that landed the country in junk status while the World Health Organisation, WHO, set compliance standards to fight the pandemic. People have to wash hands with soap regularly or use a hand sanitiser; Stay Home, Social distance and wear a mask in public. While these compliances were possible and easy to follow in some areas, in others it was difficult to even enforce. Hungry people were hearing about the virus but hunger was a dominant sensation. Having no water worked against the washing of hands. Those living in informal settlements packed in small rooms ,could not social distance.
The virus exposed socio-economic cracks that have been with us all the time and were not being taken seriously.
The pandemic has given us the opportunity to correct, reposition and reconfigure our lives. At a macro level, new programmes are necessary so that people are able to feed themselves and have shelter.
Food security need not be talked about particularly in Africa while we procure weapons to fight each other. Our Continent is rich in almost everything including land. The youth need to be at the forefront of a movement on food security and relevant education because our Continent and South Africa in particular cannot afford to have so many unemployed graduates. Production not just consumption is key.
During the pandemic, the Foundation has been working with the Youth in sourcing and distributing food hampers to indigent families. They have also started a programme to distribute blankets and warm clothes to those in need. It is worth celebrating that even though the youth are locked down, they continue to play a part in their areas. They need to be supported in every possible way. The Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Youth in a meaningful manner during Youth Month and beyond. This phase will soon pass and victory is certain.
See Gallery for more pictures.