Part 2 - Training Youth Leaders in Advocacy

The film workshops that we ran during the first 6 weeks identified a wide range of issues that the youths face in their communities. During this process they also formed Youth Committees, with two Youth Leaders per Safe Park. The election of the Youth Leaders was done through a voting system, whereby one boy and one girl had to be elected and individuals could not vote for themselves. These Youth Committees, headed by their leaders, will now become the voice of their own generation within their Community-Based-Organisation. Together they can identify the needs of their peers within their organisations and advocate for things that would better suit their needs. However, the aim is not to limit the potential impact of these youths to their organisations, but to encourage their engagement with their wider communities. Therefore we took the Youth Leaders from each Safe Park to the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, so we could discuss with them the wider issues of the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide and Xenophobia. This proved to be powerful as whilst most of the youths had learnt about the Holocaust, they had never heard about the Rwandan genocide and their knowledge of xenophobia in South Africa was not in-depth. The leaders also found that within these events, there were deeper lessons to be learnt, most particularly of the dangers of discrimination and stereotyping, and also the importance of not being a bystander as there is power in standing up and advocating for what is right. It is our task now to take these lessons back to the safe parks so that the youths can use them in their community engagement. The following videos introduce some of the leaders, and their insights into the workshop they attended at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

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Khanyisile, one of the Youth Leaders from the Bonisiwe Field Project tells us about her Safe Park and shares with us her thoughts on the week-long workshop at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

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Fezeka, a Youth Leader from the Leth'ithemba safe park in Vorsloorus shares with us her thoughts on the week at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. She also delivers a very powerful and personal poem as she reflects on how the week was not just about learning about the Holocaust and Genocide, but also helped her come to term with events in her own life.

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Thulane, a childcare advocate at the Leth'ithemba safe park, talks about his experiences of witnessing xenophobia in his home community, and what lessons he has taken back from the workshop at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

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Koketso, one of the youth leaders from Repheleng Care Centre, selected Zachie Achmat "because he is the bravest man. He is brave because no one else would stand up and tell people about their HIV status."

Learn more about Zachie Achmat from his 21 Icons short film -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQPgdu1XrD0

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One of the activities that the youth leaders undertook during the workshop at the JHGC, was entitled '21 Icons'. During the activity, the leaders were shown interviews of 21 modern day South African icons. After this, a discussion took place that centred on what makes a role model, and who the role models of our youths are. Our youths then selected one of the 21 Icons and explained why this person would be a role model to them.

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Khanyisile selected Nelson Mandela as her icon, "because he is respectful, and he shows many people respect."

Watch Mandela's 21 Icons video here -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFBrYO28kzs

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Jerry, one of the Youth Leaders from Leth'ithemba, selected Achmed Kathrada as his icon:
"Achmed Kathrada is my icon because he was a good person, doing many nice things in the world. He was a freedom fighter and went to Jail with Nelson Mandela for 26 years. I wish to be like this man (but not go to jail!!!)"

Watch Achmed Kathrada's 21 Icons video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpbuVn0n1co

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Tisetso, one of the youth leaders from Ncedo Thuso, also selected Nelson Mandela as her icon, "because he was respectful and a good listener. He taught us something we didn't know and fought for many years."

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Thulane selected John Kani as his Icon:
"John Khani is my icon because he is the best writer in the world. I like him because he used art instead of a weapon to fight back. And I quote him 'If the cops didn't come back, we went back to the boardroom.' This means that he wanted the cops-the Apartheid system- to get the message."

Watch John Kani's 21 Icon's video here -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCYPZGFQM-4

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Fezeka selected storyteller Gcina Mhlophe as her icon, "because she is an inspiration to our country. She encourages us with her stories to make the world a better place.
I wish one day to be a storyteller like her, to encourage and give hope to those who have lost hope."

Watch Gcina Mhlophe's 21 Icons video here -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrhz-LWaS7A

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Hlengiwe, a youth leader from the Bonisiwe Field Project, also selected Nelson Mandela as her icon, "because he fought for my rights and now I am free because of him."

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Wandile, from the Ncedo Thuso safepark, wrote a poem about the Rwandan Genocide:

"Was it? Oh yes it was.
On the 15th of April 1994,
my neighbours turning into strangers.

Surely I survived? But How?
The question is how?
How did I survive?

Do we know God? Did I know God?
Actually I do
he has been present since that day.

I had no hesitation,
but I could hear young voices,
of my fellow sisters and blood brothers.

Some cannot be mentioned,
they just vanished, some are punished.
But God was it?
Oh yes it was."

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At the end of the week at the Holocaust Centre, the Youth Leaders decided to reflect on all that they had learnt through some sort of artistic medium. Many of the youths took this opportunity to express their feelings through poetry, whilst others through song and even a drama performance.

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