Seroline Pedro, 22, and Neheusha Faroo, 19, who have established the Porterville Jeug Forum. Picture: SUPPLIED
Cape Town - With only a few days till Youth Day, Heart FM has passed the halfway mark of its annual 16 Days for Youth initiative.

The core team are in Porterville and Gouda to highlight the stories of organisations and individuals making a difference in the lives of the youth in their respective communities.

On Monday the team broadcast from the Path of Prosperity (POP) Centre in Porterville.

Farm workers and their families in the wine-growing areas of the Western Cape, including the Swartland, have been trapped in poverty for many generations.

The effects are evident everywhere - poor and overcrowded accommodation, illiteracy, high school dropout rates, alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, unskilled young people and adults, HIV/Aids, shockingly high rates of TB, and some of the highest levels of children born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the world.

The POP aims to transform local communities by offering the next generation of children the opportunity to become healthy, self-confident, educated young people who are eventually able to take up leadership roles in their own communities.

Two such youths are Seroline Pedro, 22, and Neheusha Faroo, 19, who are volunteers at the POP, where they work with children in the after-school programme.

However, they have taken matters into their own hands by establishing the Porterville Jeug Forum to address issues that directly affect them and their peers.

The pair have already attended a critical forum, held in the Piketberg Community Hall, in collaboration with various stakeholders such as municipal council members and Codebridge, an NGO that focuses on empowering the youth through technology.

Pedro’s and Faroo’s energy is contagious. The educated pair are passionate about the extraordinary level of school dropouts in their area.

They have identified upliftment as a key strategy to help tackle issues such as truancy, unemployment and crime.

They are committed to communicating how youngsters - those who have matriculated as well as those who haven’t - can uplift themselves through taking ownership and getting involved.

Pedro said: “What you become is up to you.”

She said there were local programmes available to young people, but the message did not reach them. The girls are spreading the word door-to-door. They are encouraging the youth to be involved by actively participating in community programmes and sports activities offered.

While at POP on Monday, the team spotted a crèche and spoke to the day mother. She said she had started renovations, but had to stop because of a lack of finances. Heart FM has stepped in and delivered bricks, cement and other building materials.

Funding is a major obstacle faced by non-registered care facilities in South Africa. Coupled with this are compliance requirements crucial to the issuing of certificates to allow for grants. This is a conundrum for most establishments that are privately run by ordinary citizens.

* For more information about the initiative, go to http://16daysforyouth.com/
** Follow the journey on social media @Heart1049FM or @16DaysForYouth - #16DaysForYouth.

Cape Argus