Vol­un­teers help build the na­tion

Public Sector Manager - - Message From -

Many of us will still re­mem­ber how South Africa made it through the dark days of apartheid and the key role Nel­son Man­dela played. He gave our coun­try hope.

On July 18, as we re­flect on his life and what it means to our coun­try, we should ask our­selves: How can we as South Africans give back?

While many of us will again this year give 67 min­utes to help­ing some­one in need, more South Africans, par­tic­u­larly the youth, should look to vol­un­teer a few months of their time.

Our coun­try re­mains di­vided, with racism and hate speech of­ten rear­ing its ugly head on so­cial me­dia and in pub­lic spa­ces. Ad­ding to this, abuse of al­co­hol and drugs, and other de­struc­tive be­hav­iour, con­tinue to blight the lives of our youth.

Vol­un­teer­ing fos­ters em­pa­thy and un­der­stand­ing for others and cul­ti­vates self-re­spect and dis­ci­pline. This is why gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied vol­un­teerism as key to so­cial co­he­sion.

Youth vol­un­teer pro­grammes

The Na­tional Youth Devel­op­ment Agency, through its Youth Build Pro­gramme, has part­nered with the de­part­ments of pub­lic works, hu­man set­tle­ments and ru­ral devel­op­ment to cre­ate youth vol­un­teer pro­grammes. These al­low young peo­ple to gain crit­i­cal skills and give them the op­por­tu­nity to serve in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Youth spend eight to 12 months in class and on site learn­ing the con­struc­tion trade us­ing the Youth Build model adapted from Youth Build In­ter­na­tional.

In an­other pro­gramme, vol­un­teers are re­cruited within iden­ti­fied com­mu­ni­ties to build houses. On com­ple­tion they are placed into train­ing with the Na­tional Home Builders Reg­is­tra­tion Coun­cil (NHBRC) for six weeks. They are then given help to find jobs or start their own busi­nesses us­ing the skills they have ac­quired.

The Depart­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy also has a vol­un­teer­ing pro­gramme, for young un­em­ployed science, en­gi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy grad­u­ates. Grad­u­ates give their time for up to a year to par­tic­i­pat­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions that col­lab­o­rate with the depart­ment in its youth devel­op­ment pro­grammes.

Dur­ing the year these vol­un­teers get spe­cialised train­ing in ar­eas such as en­trepreneur­ship and life skills.

Youth ser­vice pro­gramme

The num­ber of vol­un­teers in South Africa rose from 1.3 mil­lion in 2010 to 2.2 mil­lion in 2014, but the av­er­age an­nual hours worked by each vol­un­teer fell in this pe­riod from 321 to 277 hours, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics South Africa's 2014 Vol­un­teer Ac­tiv­ity Sur­vey.

This de­cline is con­cern­ing, but the gov­ern­ment is look­ing to strengthen vol­un­teer­ing.

This year the Pres­i­dency is ex­pected to sub­mit the re­vised Na­tional Youth Ser­vice Pro­gramme Frame­work to Cab­i­net for ap­proval.

In ad­di­tion, the Na­tional Youth Ser­vice Unit is busy set­ting up a men­tor­ing pro­gramme to help civil so­ci­ety groups run by young peo­ple to func­tion ef­fec­tively and be­come self-sus­tain­ing.

These mea­sures, we hope, will see vol­un­teer­ing grow in strides and play a greater role in the devel­op­ment of our coun­try.

Phumla Wil­liams GCIS Act­ing Direc­tor-Gen­eral

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