New Vaal Colliery helps tackle youth issues, one conversation at a time

New Vaal Colliery, accompanied by several local stakeholders, including the Metsimaholo Youth Development Entrepreneur Forum, Vaal University of Technology and Department of Health, hosted a successful dialogue targeted at the area’s youth on Saturday, 18 February with over 120 Youth in attendance. Presented at the Harry Gwala Multipurpose Centre in Sasolburg, the theme was ‘Changing Mindsets’.

“One of our goals is to foster an ongoing culture of communication that enables free and constructive dialogue around many of the problems young people face today. These encompass matters relating to health and lifestyle, including HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and criminal activity, all of which can lead to further problems down the line,” says mine wellness coordinator Sharon Montoeli.

“Many people unfortunately die young owing to illnesses like HIV and tuberculosis while the rate of unwanted pregnancy continues to rise. This is not owing to a lack of awareness, but a desperate shortage of sporting, cultural and youth-oriented self-improvement amenities within local communities.
Young people also have limited access to programmes offered by skills development agencies,” says Sharon.

While none of these problems can be solved overnight, she believes that simply talking about them can lead to encouraging outcomes.

“Our fight against the AIDS pandemic extends beyond our workforce, and it is through interactions like these that we can play our part in achieving the National Department of Health’s 90-90-90 2020 goals. These are: for 90% of all people to know their status, for 90% of those who are HIV positive to be on antiretroviral therapy and for 90% of those infected to have an undetectable viral load.”

The youngsters signed a pledge committing to be part of an AIDS-Free generation by 2030, and were once again reminded that the first step is always to know their status.

Community development Superintendent Tshepo Maphutsi emphasised the operation’s commitment to supporting young people where and how it can, particularly when it comes to sharing information that empowers. He further noted some of the programmes supported by New Vaal Colliery: namely: Community Scholarships, Youth Technical Skills Programme and Enterprise Development through Anglo Zimele.” We must always remember that one determined person can make a significant difference and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history”

Sponsored community theatre shared real-life stories concerning health, wellness, relationships and the vulnerability of young girls to older men, and the performances were well received by an enthusiastic audience.

An outstanding guest speaker was a young author Nkosi Moremoholo who has experienced and overcome many of the typical problems affecting his youthful peers.

“Never give up on yourself no matter how tough life gets,” he said, urging them to seek out their own opportunities, and to move away from the mindset that they need to be employees but rather entrepreneurs who can create employment.

The value of the day’s activities can best be judged by the comments received from one of New Vaal’s partners on the day, the Metsimaholo Youth Development Entrepreneur Forum.

“This event helped us as a youth forum to gain a deeper understanding of what young people go through. It also provided a platform for community members themselves to come up with solutions to the many challenges they share.”

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