#EKSE! My Voice, My Safety – one year later

When frayintermedia started training members of the Katlehong and Tembisa clusters Youth Crime Prevention Desk (YCPD), most of the volunteers were unemployed and looking for work.

A year later, and many of the 30 Ekurhuleni youngsters who completed the #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety new media communications programme are either employed or well on their way to new opportunities.

YCPD #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety was a partnership between the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, South African Police Service, Community Police Forum and German aid organisation Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Run by Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication, with training support from frayintemedia, the programme aimed to teach participants how to use social and traditional media to improve communication with their communities.

YCPDs were first established 16 years ago in Gauteng to mobilise young people to volunteer in crime and violence prevention with the aim of creating safer communities.

At inception of the YCPD #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety programme in February 2014, all of the participants were unemployed. At its close in August, four had secured jobs.

Now, a year later, “Most of us have jobs,” said participant Thabiso Moloi, who is employed as a retail merchandiser by multinational Nestle.

Nokululeko Ngwenya was one of the first to secure employment as an administrator at a start-up construction company. She said the company was growing and had opened a shop that sells protective gear for people working in the industry. She’s been charged with looking after the operation.

“It’s very nice to earn my own money. Now I can afford to pay for my studies. I will be registering to do social work with Unisa in August,” Ngwenya said.

She attributed her success to #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety.

“When I started the course I was very reserved. I learned how to communicate. What I am doing now wouldn’t have been easy had it not been for the course,” she said.

Marvyn January is a great example of how to put contacts to good use. By the time the training programme ended, January had been recruited as a Soul Buddyz mentor by Soul City. The role offered six months intensive on-the-job training.

January now plans to register an NPO. “It will be an information centre where youth can find out about bursaries and learnerships. It will also be a computer centre with free Wi-Fi access,” he said.

Although still in the planning phase, January is determined to succeed: “We want to encourage young people to engage on social media.”

Several of the participants are now studying. Precious Maenetja is on a learnership with the Safety and Security SETA. Bongiwe Bunga is studying Tourism and Hospitality at a private college. While Jonas Ubisi, who was among the first to secure a learnership, has graduated and starts work as a traffic officer in July.

Meanwhile Thoko Radebe is now a Community Development Practitioner with the Department of Social Development. “The programme is called sustainable livelihoods. We work in the community. We deliver food parcels, identify skills shortages and refer people to skills development centres.”

The programme also supports co-operatives by procuring what they produce. For example, one co-op sews uniforms for children who come from poor homes.

“I love my job. Giving back is my passion. In fact it doesn’t feel like work. To see the look of gratitude on a Gogo’s face is priceless. I have found my purpose,” Radebe said.

GIZ provided financial support for #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety programme.

Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) Technical Advisor at GIZ, Allan Boesak, was not surprised that most participants were now employed.

“If you compare the first video and the one at the final learning event, it’s clear they are a lot more confident. Not only in speaking about the subject matter but also in their interpersonal communication,” he said.

Boesak said since the project ended they often invited some of the participants to meet high-ranking visitors from Germany, who were keen to learn more about the programme.

Despite being employed, many of #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety participants continue to volunteer at the YCPD.

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