Some two and a half years ago, two young men from Hangberg set out with the goal to lure children away from the temptations prevalent on the streets of the community.
Peter Michaels and Jeffrey Jonkers started off with small projects, using their talents as performers to entertain youths in a series of “park jams” while also rolling out feeding schemes.
Instantly recognising that a more formal programme was needed, they founded the Harvest Youth Project with the assistance of the chief executive of the Hout Bay Harvest Centre, Helena Fagan.
Today, more than 60 young people from all around Hout Bay participate in the various programmes run by the men.
“We try to partner with as many organisations as we can, including Bright Start, Meet and Teach, Dash Leopards FC and James House.
“There are not enough resources in the community to support our programmes, so these partnerships are vital,” Mr Michaels said.
One of the great success stories of the project are the collaborations it enjoys with foreign students visiting Hout Bay.
“There is often the wrong perception of how things are in South Africa. We show these visitors what everyday life is like in Hangberg.
Despite the difficult circumstances, they see how talented our youth are. They succeed in many disciplines, whether its performance, soccer or basketball.”
However, Mr Michaels is under no illusions about the daily challenges.
“Our biggest challenge is to find role models for the kids. They need to be inspired, so we do everything we can to find people the youth can look up to.
“Another problem is that sometimes organisations make promises to the kids and they don’t follow through as expected. This can lead to the kids losing hope.”
Harvest Youth Project spends a lot of time encouraging the youngsters to broaden their horizons.
“I always say the world is like a book. Where we live is one chapter, so we want our young people to travel so they can add new chapters.”
In the next five years, Mr Michaels would like to see his charges doing well at school and receiving scholarships to study further.
“We are trying to change the mind-set that says you have to go into traditional fishing. It is important to let people know that we don’t want hand-outs, only support for the youngsters, This can be a donation, service or partnership.
To assist, the Harvest Youth Project can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mr Michaels on 083 382 0153 or Helena Fagan on 082 784 5054.