Drugs, teenage pregnancy and the latest trend of “blessers” are major issues faced by the youth in the KwaMashu community. This emerged at a youth dialogue hosted by the Democracy Development Program in partnership with Youth Inter-Active and Activate, at the L community Hall on May 20.
A lack of love and attention from their parents was another major issue that most girls in the community face. One girl said: “You go to your mom to ask her for money to buy toiletries and she says to you how come you don’t have a boyfriend to buy you those things or why is your boyfriend not the one buying for you?” She further noted that it is these responses that have led girls in her community to date older men and the so called “blessers” who give them money and once the men get their pleasure from the girls, they leave them pregnant or ill.
The dialogue targeted the youth that was involved in various ways at bettering the community. They aimed at finding solutions and answers to these questions:
- What is the status of the youth in their communities?
- What are the issues they are facing as youth and communities?
- Why are positive youth stories never told, given the fact that there is youth that is doing positive work out there?
When speaking about the issues they are facing directly as youth engaged in creating positive change, they highlighted that there is a lack of intervention from leaders and senior community members and as a result there is no support of activity that takes place “unless you have a soccer tournament and a modelling event, nobody supports” one of them said.
The day was then concluded by discussing the positive stories that take place and why they are never told or spoken about as much as the negative narratives that always get attention. To which the common response was: “the youth that is doing positive, leaves the neighbourhood to go stay in suburbs such as Umhlanga and Central Durban because here in KwaMashu, some feel that they better to be staying here and others become victims of people who label them as trying or thinking that they are better than other”.
The dialogue brought to the spotlight the many issues facing the youth in the community and highlighted a great need for platforms of engagement with youth in such communities in hope that they can bring about change and funding needed to make their communities better places to live in.