Abigail Gregory made this a reality after she received a £300 Individual Grant for Volunteering. This helped her be one of 24 volunteers (12 from the UK and 12 South African) working within the Walmer Township near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. To help the local community they worked in groups covering subjects such as Arts & Culture, Sport, Awareness, Peer Education, Community Outreach and Research. The aim was to help young people suffering from or exposed to alcohol and/or substance abuse by getting them involved in alternative activities.
Events organised included
The volunteers worked with the Human Dignity Centre, a small school helping children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. They used play to teach about dangers in the community and helped overstretched teachers provide their own lessons by being ‘extra sets of hands’ in and around the classroom.
Just like the Jack Petchey Foundation their aim was to empower young people to take charge of their futures and inspire them to make a difference. This project has helped to set up sustainable alternative activities for young people to keep them from getting into trouble through bad behaviour created by boredom. A major problem in their community is the lack of local services and hobbies available, leading to youths becoming involved in drinking in many of the local taverns and getting caught up in gangs and sometimes life-threatening incidents.
Many of the events throughout the project highlight the danger of what happens when people abuse alcohol or substances and how it changes their lives. This shows young people the consequences of their actions and how they can choose a different route in life such as concentrating on getting a good education.
Abigail felt she learnt to value her own family and friends more after seeing how important relationships were to her host family and how they benefitted from the support of each other in difficult times. She said “I now realise that materialistic items aren’t as important anymore: it’s not what you have; it’s how you use it. Even the poorest of people can have the richest of lives.”
"Seeing some of the youth in the community become highly motivated to change their future by studying made me realise that education is the key to being able to get a better start in life and I now value my own educational opportunities more. I have gained lifelong friends, both from my team in the UK and from my host family and South African volunteers who I can keep in contact with via FB and Whatsapp" Abigail felt.
A Facebook page was set up to promote the project.
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