Reviving a forgotten custom : an evaluation of a community based mentoring intervention - the Jamestown USIKO Youth Project
While children are young, they look to their parents for all their needs; they expect them to have the answers to all their questions. When they enter adolescence they go in search of their own answers. If they do not find guidance at home or with other responsible adults within their community, they may start to look to their peers for advice, information, and direction. “Earlier work on gangs in South Africa has suggested that the effects of poverty and Apartheid’s massive social engineering created social stress to which gangs were a teenage response. The result of this uprooting and neglect is that the solid core of contributing adult members crumbles, and the institutions that provide the foundations of community fall apart. The community safety net is left in tatters. Parents, exhausted by long hours required to make ends meet or demoralized by their inability to cope with the hardships of poverty, may turn to drugs and alcohol. Kids are left on their own in …. adultless communities.” (Sarah Van Gelder as cited in Pinnock, 1997, p.5) To counteract these negative social patterns that prevail in disadvantaged communities, a community based intervention was conceptualised to provide youth at risk with a rites of passage diversion programme. In 2001, a programme called the Community Building Leadership Programme was developed and piloted by USIKO in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch and a peri-urban community in Jamestown, near Stellenbosch. Twenty-one boys (mentees) and thirteen men (mentors) from Jamestown and the surrounding areas were selected to be pioneers in this process. This thesis expounds the experiences and recommendations of the thirteen men who were the entrepreneurs of the first Jamestown USIKO Youth Project.