The Diepsloot Youth Projects focuses on income-generating projects and programmes that enable young people to engage in business opportunities, as well as gain access to various skills development options.
“The Diepsloot Youth Projects was not a business, not a project, not an organisation, it was just a group of young people in the beginning,” Neftaly Malatjie, director of the Diepsloot Youth Projects, told CNBC Africa.
“When we were starting, there were 60 [young people], and they all left me because there was no money, things were very tough then. Now, I’m changing the lives of more than 3,000 young people that are coming into our programmes.”
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Diepsloot is an informal settlement in Johannesburg, and is home to over 150,000 people. Living conditions and service delivery in the township are however harshly poor. Programmes are therefore essential to empower young people.
Malatjie, who started the project at 14, has now developed it into a fully-functioning initiative with an afternoon care programme with an internet centre.
“We’re trying to make [young people] use the internet for their research, and they also come into our afternoon programme [for] drama, theatre and dance. We also have the computer training which, per year, we train 150 [young people],” said Malatjie.
He however explained that because of many of the young people’s poor backgrounds, the only forms of employment within their reach were in the retail, hospitality and wholesale sectors, predominantly in occupations such as cashiers, call centre agents, and waiters and waitresses.
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Last year, of the 290 young people that had gone through the computer training programme, only 93 had managed to secure employment. The original figure had significantly dwindled but the remainder of the individuals had nonetheless managed to find a means of depending on themselves.
“With the programmes that we have, especially in life skills, I’ve realised that many young people are stereotyped to believe that everything they have to do, they have to be given," said Malatjie.
"After young people have participated within our programmes, they realise that they need to do something. We are removing them from just becoming people who always complain, to people that are now saying 'I need to take responsibility over my life'".