The 1976 youth who revolted against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in township schools set a precedent at a very high personal cost. South Africans are all-too familiar with the iconic photograph of a dying Hector Pieterson being carried by a fellow student after being shot at by police deployed to Soweto to squash the uprising.
As we celebrate Youth Month in the country this June, inevitable comparisons are being drawn between the ‘76 youth who stood against an oppressive regime and refused to let their voice be silenced. Critics of the current crop of youth are quick to point out that the levels of high school drop-outs are rising, many of our youth are addicted to drugs and alcohol and that there is no real leadership to steer them away from the ills so prevalent in contemporary South Africa.
While the country is undoubtedly facing a slew of social challenges, many of the older generation would be wise not to write them off just yet. Youth leaders like Paris Makaringe (25), have been at the forefront of ensuring that this generation has a voice and a cause. He has been actively involved in community work since completing his matric in 2010 and said, “My focus areas are youth development and women and child programmes in terms of empowerment and awareness.”
“I’ve observed and witnessed the social challenges that my community faces and who better to advocate and drive change than someone from the community?”
Makaringe’s mantra is, ‘I’ll touch lives as long as I’m alive’ and it is this which spurred him into launching the Paris Makaringe Foundation (PMF) in Devland on June 2. The civic-minded youth is a familiar face in Eldorado Park and Freedom Park and does not shy away from confronting issues like femicide and women and children abuse in these communities through his hard work and involvement in initiatives like Lonwabo lweSizwe and Kumaka.
The need for our children to excel academically is of paramount importance and PMF have partnered with Phakamani Young Minds Academy (PYMA) to introduce a mentorship programme for learners after school and during school holidays to tackle the educational challenges in the Greater Eldorado Park.
LISTEN as Paris Makaringe talks about his passion for community activism:
The learners selected will be selected online and chosen from schools in the area. Makaringe said that he was buoyed by this partnership and said, “The programme will start with 20 children who have been identified as learners with educational and behavioural issues.”
“They will be accepted into the programme and given all the necessary support they need by carefully vetted volunteers.”
“This process will be handled by our stakeholders, all professionals who will volunteer their time to the foundation.”
He said that the partnership with PYMA would provide a positive experience and multiple opportunities for every student to improve their academic performance and build up their self-esteem.
He said, “Our web site will be live from the first week of July and organisations willing to partner with the foundation are welcome to do so by getting in touch with the director, Thembi Maseko on 074 565 8123 or myself on 084 776 2264.”