Excitement was palpable in the narrow, densely populated streets of Tembisa, in Gauteng, on Monday as scores of young people from the Shepherd Bushiri-led Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) marched hand-in-hand with local young people commemorating a “fun walk” spreading the gospel against substance abuse, and commemorating the role of the young in African societies.
Pastor Sean Longwe, from ECG, told African News Agency (ANA) that the youth outreach programme had its start in the International Youth Service day which was held in Pretoria on Saturday.
“Through the interactions [during International Youth Service Day] our team managed to fish out this community initiative which is keeping kids off drugs and making them become better individuals, better persons in their community. The prophet [Bushiri] instructed the team to come and support, and since it’s winter we have come to help in terms of clothing and groceries. This is part of the prophet’s charity programmes,” said Longwe.
He said regarding future support to the township’s young people, the ECG’s international youth coordinator Winnie Tshirangwana would be making presentations for continued support.
“You cannot just assist a person in one way and it ends there. What about the future? If you can see, inside the packages we are giving there is also the Word of God [books] to sustain them. With that Word, when their minds are changed and transformed, I think it would be a better start. It’s not only food items that sustain a person,” said Longwe.
Moses Chauke — a Tembisa community member and founder of the Double Blacks Edu-tainment Production, a performing arts ensemble which has co-opted the homeless children, and drug addicts — said his initiative is going through dire straits, and the injection from ECG would ensure that the vulnerable groups have meals, for now.
“What we do is education through entertainment. We are taking people with all social issues — nyaope, HIV, teenage pregnancy and all the issues affecting people around. We’re from Ivory Park, a place that is dominated by crime, teenage pregnancies, HIV and other problems. We gather these children from a young age because some of them, it’s their parents who are taking drugs. Some of them are growing up in hardships, so we gather them and help them see art as a way of life,” said Chauke who was with his wife Sibongile.
Chauke’s ensemble mesmerised onlookers with their nimble footwork in the gumboot dance — South African dance performed by dancers wearing Wellington boots.
One of the people under Chauke’s care, 47-year-old Evans Nkoana, said he hoped more organisations would chip-in to provide professional assistance to deal with the drug abuse which is ravaging the impoverished community.
“I really need help. Please assist,” said the 47-year-old drug addict holding his blankets and toiletries donated by the ECG.
Chauke said he was providing care for about 30 people, but now his performing arts ensemble had been told to vacate its rehearsal premises by the landlord.
“We’re in distress right now. We’ve nowhere to go. These young people need something to keep them busy and stay off drugs. I don’t have a home big enough to shelter them. What are we going to do? We are in trouble now,” Chauke pleaded.
June is dedicated as Youth Month in South Africa, with numerous activities on the calendar commemorating the role of young people in society.
– African News Agency (ANA)