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Bringing hope to young people

Ikusasa Ngelami aims to restore young people's hope this Youth Month by visiting and sharing her message at 41 Model C schools, where children are vulnerable and at risk, in the Durban area.

IKUSASA Ngelami founder Zonke Hlongwane is restoring hope to young people in celebration of her 41st birthday. Ikusasa Ngelami is a Child and Youth Care and Development organisation that renders preventative and therapeutic services to children, youth, parents, guardians and families.

Hlongwane, who celebrated her 41st birthday recently, said the day is a reminder of God’s favour upon her life after growing up in a violent environment. Her visit to 41 schools in Durban is aimed at being a voice of reason to scores of young people who have lost hope due to their current circumstances involving drugs, teenage pregnancy and the temptations of crime and alcohol.

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“Growing up in a violent home and being removed from my household at the age of nine to be raised by a relative made me feel rejected and unwanted. As if that was not enough, my mom died when I turned 13 years old. Losing my mom at 13, during a critical adolescent stage when I needed her the most, made me lose all hope.

“Throughout high school, I struggled with emotional issues, took everything personally, hated doing homework and was rebellious. Despite these challenges, God’s grace guided me to overcome these difficulties and eventually open a non-profit company (NPC) dedicated to family transformation and youth development,” she said.

Through her own experience and being a child- and youth-care practitioner, Hlongwane said she has observed that general hopelessness has led many young people to see no future for themselves.
“I understand this feeling well as I also had no hope for the future during my high school years, basing my outlook on the bleak picture I saw around me,” she said.

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The visit is targeting Model C schools where children are vulnerable and at risk. “These are the children who live in townships but travel to school in town and are at risk of experimenting with drugs, crime, sex and general misbehaviour. They often face a lot of pressure from peers of different backgrounds. This is especially true in high school where teens lack identity and seek approval, making it easy for them to fall into drugs and crime due to peer pressure. Additionally, some girls face offers from older men who exploit their vulnerability,” she explained.

Hlongwane said the visit aims to help learners deal with the negativity they face in the township environment.
“I believe that young people today need help and support to face their daily challenges. By sharing my story and offering guidance, I hope to give them the hope and support they need to see a brighter future. This celebration is not just about my birthday; it’s about inspiring others and giving back to the community that shaped me,” she said.

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In celebration of Youth Month, Ikusasa Ngelami will run a youth empowerment programme for teenage boys and girls. The ‘Girl, You are Enough’ programme for girls who are 13 to 19 years old will be on June 17 in Pinetown. This will be followed by the ‘Boy, You are Enough’ programme for boys who are 13 to 19 years old on June 22.

“We invite all teenagers and pre-teens to join us for these empowering events and take the first steps towards a brighter future,” she said.

To enrol in the programmes, parents can contact Zonke Hlongwane on 063 819 6905 or izintombizonke@gmail.com.

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