Working to Prevent a ‘Lost Generation’

South Africa is a nation at risk of losing an entire generation to unemployment, despair and, worse, crime. Some statistics say half the young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are unemployed. Overall, a grim picture. What kind of nation will they be able create as adults?

At the Salesian Center in Cape Town, we are dedicated to creating opportunity, self-respect and hope for these children and young people. Every religion, every society, every parent teaches us that children should be protected from harm and given the best education, the best chance to thrive. Our connection as humans makes this an urgent task, no matter where we live or what we believe.

Our Innovative Approach

We believe every child is unique, with special needs and special potential. That’s why we custom-tailor our work to each individual.

Some youngsters have never learned to read and write: they go to class in our school to catch up with their peers. Others have the basics, but lack any skills to land them a good-paying job: for them we have a wide variety of vocational programmes. Others need social services to help with legal, health or substance abuse problems: we connect them with government social service agencies.

A Belief in Human Connection

The Salesian Institute Youth Projects programmes are unique in one other aspect: we believe in the power of human connection and we make sure all the young people we work with are taught the social skills they need to connect with each other, and with their community.

Our Life Skills programmes give young people the confidence, social skills and emotional intelligence they need to reconnect with society in healthy ways. After years of feeling inadequate, this is often the biggest need our programme participants have. And the intervention to which they most positively respond:

“The course brought out the inner me: I think I knew myself, but I was lying to myself, so after the three weeks (of Life Skills training), I knew who I am and what I wanted to achieve in life.”
– Sivuyile Mabope, 22, a graduate of the Youth Employment Skills programme, now works at KFC

Love is our Foundation

And our commitment to connection goes beyond those special programmes: everything we do, every interaction we have is meant to show love and connection to the youths we serve. It’s a model developed more than a century ago by our founder, St. John Bosco, and we find it as relevant and effective today as it ever was.

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