Taking a walk around Eastwood can be heartbreaking in many ways. On any street corner, especially around the civic centre parking, you will see young people hanging around, either smoking drugs or drinking the popular cough mixture concoction (incika). They stand around for hours; staying high almost all day and every day.
My question is, who are the regular suppliers of this cough mixture? Is it getting sold in the local tuck shops and supermarkets? I don’t want to point any fingers and maybe wrongly accusing tuck shops or supermarket owners in the neighbourhood. Are there any runners in human form on our roads pushing the stuff?
“Our community sporting facilities are a disgrace. There is absolutely nothing left of them. If our sport facilities could be sorted out, the floodlights reconnected…and ongoing youth activities revived, half the battle would be won.”
How many types of drugs is our neighbourhood dealing with? As a resident, parent, uncle, big brother and family head, these questions can be mentally draining and cause sleepless nights. Looking at the causes of this situation and maybe ways of taking our youngsters away from the streets and the various social ills, can be challenging. Are these youth prepared to change their ways; their current risky lifestyles?
A couple of school-going boys once told me that in order to be accepted by your friendship circles, you must take drugs. Around our community it is no longer a bad habit but now a “must lifestyle”. Personally, I think all concerned parties, especially community leaders, church leaders and especially our politicians, have to go back to the simple, old-fashioned ways of taking the youth away from the streets.
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The first project that should be undertaken, is sorting out our sport facilities. Our community sporting facilities are a disgrace. There is absolutely nothing left of them. If our sport facilities could be sorted out, the floodlights reconnected, the goalposts put up, the old boxing gym opened, the dance classes resumed at the local civic centre, and ongoing youth activities revived, half the battle would be won.
Also, the local church leaders, politicians, municipality, community and business sector will have to come up with a long-term plan to keep our youth active and away from the streets.
Obviously, the first step would be calling a big community meeting that all the people, political parties, teachers, SGBs and church leaders must be part of. We must always remember that the public out there is very powerful and most of the answers can be found coming from the public.
I don’t care who it is — it can be a local businessperson, prominent local figure, church leader, municipal staffer, retired professional, ordinary community member or politician — but that person who stands up, takes action and revamps our sporting complex in Eastwood, will be loved, and blessed for life because our youth and the future will be saved. It can be done.
It is the plain truth that without our sport complex up and running first, nothing is likely to come together and we are unlikely to win any battles over social ills because sport is the easiest and cheapest way to unify a community.
• Jerry Barnes is a local veteran sport journalist and community activist.