To combat the concerning drug, alcohol and gangsterism problem affecting youth in Hanover Park and Vygieskraal, Mustadafin Foundation launched a summer holiday intervention programme to help keep youngsters away from these concerning social problems.

Twice a week 20 boys between 12 and 20 years old met at Mustadafin Foundation in Athlone during the summer holidays to learn vital life skills, play educational games and participate in craftwork and sporting activities. Two registered counsellors and four Psychology and Social Work student volunteers facilitated these fun and informative workshops for the youngsters.

Exciting weekend outings were provided as an incentive to participants who were diligent in attending and benefitting from the intervention programme. Among the rewards were horse riding, a day at the municipal swimming pools, a boat ride to Robben Island and a trip to the movies. “My favourite outing was when we went to swim at Sea Point. They taught me how to swim. I feel much more confident and proud of myself,” said one of the participants.

“The boys attending the programme were selected based on their extreme vulnerability during the long summer holidays,” said Ghairunisa Johnstone, Director at Mustadafin Foundation. One of the participants in the programme described the place where he lives: “There is a big problem in my area with drugs like tik, cocaine, weed and heroine. There are a lot of tik addicts and dealers here and people steal to pay for drugs.”

Johnston said that a few of the participants in the programme did not attend school last year. “The programme has given them a new start and they are back in class now. We want to do all we can to protect these teens from a life of drugs and gangsterism,” says Johnstone.

One of the participants reflected on how the programme has helped him personally. “At first I didn’t take note of my responsibilities but I’m much more happy now. I’ve learnt a lot about life and believe in myself more.”

Although the summer holidays are now a distant memory, Mustadafin Foundation is continuing to work with the youngsters and intends to support many more in the same way. Throughout the year counsellors will mentor and counsel the group, giving them valuable life skills, tutor support and reading classes. The youngsters will also participate in art classes and sporting activities including soccer, rugby, horse riding and karate. The Foundation offers them a safe space to grow and be inspired to lead meaningful and successful lives as responsible, confident young men. The ultimate prize of remaining committed to attending the intervention sessions during the school term will be a weekend holiday and leadership camp.

“Many of these boys have few role models in their communities and are easily influenced to join gangs. Some of their family members are drug merchants or gang members. We know that during the holidays they will most likely be exposed to this criminal underworld, but even during term time they need mentorship and support. So far we have seen promising results with the first group,” says Johnstone.

Mustadafin Foundation calls on all Capetonions to help protect youth who are at risk of experimenting with alcohol, drugs and gangsterism. If anyone would like to make financial donations towards the youth at risk intervention programme, they can contact the Foundation on 021-633-0010 or visit at 18 Belgravia Road in Athlone.

For more information on Mustadafin Foundation, visit www.mustadafin.org.za. Join their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MustadafinFoundation