Addressing social ills

Nomfundo Mdingini.

Issues of teenage drinking, prostitution and school drop-out rates dominated the discourse at a meeting of the City’s social development and early childhood development directorate in Imizamo Yethu last weekend.

Local Network of Care (LNOC) groups in sub-councils 1, 15 and 16 told representatives from the directorate’s Western District that although they were undertaking to manage awareness campaigns in their communities, they frequently had difficulty in securing facilities from which to operate.

As a consequence, addressing social ills was made all the more difficult.

LNOC is a non-profit organisation consisting of volunteer care-givers who assist in preventing the vulnerable in communities from ending up on the street, while also assisting with the reintegration of street people back into their communities of origin.

At the meeting at the Iziko Lobom centre on Saturday November 12, Western District head Nomfundo Mdingini said many of the issues raised by the LNOC’s occurred throughout the sub-coun-
cils.

“We need to look at these problems, and how they lead to people ending up on the streets,” Ms Mdingini said.

“We need to ask why are our kids leaving home in the first place, or why they are turning to drugs and gangsterism. As a directorate, we do not want you to be burdened with all the problems of the community. We want you to refer these matters to us so that we can take individual cases to the right people.”

One of the great challenges, she said, was that traditional values and principles had eroded over time, and this was impacting heavily on the youth, in particular.

“The humanity part is not there anymore. We used to have extended families in communities, but now we are in a situation where there are only nuclear families. As a result, you have situations where parents only see to their own children, and do not care about what happens to the children of others.”

She said in order for that to change, not only would LNOCs need to work closely with the department, but the department would need to engage with religious institutions to return values and principles to communities.

“The pastors are saying the same things we are, which is why we are engaging with them.”

Ms Mdingini recognised the desperate need for facilities, and said the directorate would be assisting in this regard.

“There is no money for us to fund all these campaigns. That is the reality. But there are other ways that we can assist. Halls and other venues belong to the
City, and your ward councillor can assist you to book them for free for an
event.

“As a department, we can also help you with projectors and sound equipment for your presentations and awareness drives. These things are there.”

Zodwa Mbontsi, a professional officer at the directorate, emphasised the importance of partnering with the department.

“We are not asking communities to sort out their problems alone, but we do want you to take the lead in highlighting these matters,” she said.