Pretoria - “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way” – so go the lyrics from a song by the late Whitney Houston.
And Ikamva Youth Centre in Mamelodi has made this phrase its guiding principle.
The centre’s tagline, “The future is in our hands”, speaks of how children are the future of South Africa, and if steered in the right direction, can become leaders in society.
Ikamva is a national organisation with 11 branches in five provinces; Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.
The Mamelodi branch of the organisation opened last February and caters for about 120 youths from the township.
“It is a youth for youth organisation.
“ The core objective is to take the youth out of poverty,” said Ditiro Huma, Ikamva Youth district co-ordinator for Gauteng.
The organisation offers tutoring, mentoring, career guidance, health and life skills, as well as media image and expression.
Huma said the Mamelodi branch was initially opened to assist with tutoring of Grades 2 to 9 pupils to help improve their marks. However, there was a need to include other services.
Since the organisation is less than two years old, there have been some problems with reaching the people it is intended to reach. “One of our challenges is the buy-in from neighbouring schools and from parents,” said Kagiso Manyatsi, the Mamelodi branch co-ordinator.
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the organisation offers tutoring in all subjects.
There are about 20 tutors altogether who go there from 3pm to 5pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and are also available on Saturdays.
The tutors are volunteers and are only given some money for transport, with the bulk of the finances going towards operating the centre and making study aids available to the learners.
Keamogetswe Moale, the branch assistant, said most of the money was used to pay internet and telephone bills, buying and servicing photocopiers, and providing textbooks.
The centre will also provide winter school classes which run for 10 days during next year’s June/July school holidays.
“We do workshops during winter school from 9 am until 5pm. Our aim is to have more contact time with the learners and identify key challenge,” Huma said.
Their only sponsor is Amalgamated Beverages Industries, while they also get assistance from the Department of Basic Education and Higher Education and Training. Social Development department does help as well, but more funders and stakeholders are still needed.
“What is key is we need to look at our impact, and to make an impact we need finances,” Huma said.
Siblings Mogau, 16, and Louisa Mabongwane, 18, both in Grade 11, are just two of 120 pupils in the centre who have benefited greatly since its opening.
“What made me join was that I saw my school work was suffering, especially my maths and science marks.
“ Since I joined, it has helped me a lot,” Mogau said.
His dream is to become a mechanical engineer, while his sister wants to be a plastic surgeon.
“The youth centre has helped me with my communication skills and confidence, because at school I was shy, but now I am actually good with speaking,” Louisa said.