“I want to become a positive role model to people out there.”
These are the words of inspired Hangberg youth who attended a youth development camp in Villiersdorp over the weekend.
On Heritage Day (Thursday September 24), the Hangberg community gathered to wish 15 young people from the area well who attended the Academy for Growing Exemplary Members (AGEM) youth development camp.
AGEM was launched on Women’s Day about four years ago and is aimed at growing exemplary men and women.
“Primarily we look to develop exemplars from vulnerable youth residing on the Cape Flats,” said founder of the Heideveld-based project, General Mohammad Faizel Mathee and also part of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
“The future youth need to have more of these camps, workshops, and training.
“We can only win our youth, if we can teach them positively, and help them to believe in themselves.”
The youngsters were put through a series of team-building exercises and workshops aimed at developing their character and making them better leaders.
Hangberg’s Clarence Daniels, a second-year Marine Sciences student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, said he had returned from the camp a better person.
“I thought it would be a normal camp. When we entered the camp, we entered as individuals, but over the weekend, we created such a strong bond with each other, with people we never knew before this camp, and we left as a family,” he said.
He said he had picked up skills and knowledge at the camp that he would be able to use in his everyday life.
“I would like Hangberg to have more people go on these camps because it brings positivity and breathes life into our youth. I attend these leadership camps all the time, but this was different,” he said.
“We have so much potential in this community, but there is always negativity here and with camps like these, you surround yourself with positivity and that is what you take back to your community.”
Camilla Jacobs, 20, a youth leader at Little Angels Youth, added: “We were fortunate to be part of a memorable long weekend where we learnt more discipline, and structure.
“We learnt from the best (and met) up with five different communities where vulnerability and substance misuse are very high,” she said.
Ms Jacobs is working toward getting an NQ Level 4 qualification in Early Childhood Development and is also doing an administration course during her spare time.
“I want the youth to look up to me, as a lot already do. I want to encourage more youth to come and join the AGEM programme and let us all build a better community together,” Ms Jacobs said.
General Matthee said there was a strong focus on discipline at the camp and that they planned to expand to Mitchell’s Plain, Ocean View, Khayelitsha, Dunoon and other communities.
Liezl Matthews of Little Angels accompanied the youth, some of whom are part of her project, on the camp.
“The youth learnt so much, and it all starts with discipline. I could see how excited they were, and the team-building there was,” she said, emphasising the need for parents and the community to work together to build “stronger leaders with positive mindsets”.
The camp had not only empowered the youth, but also taught General Matthee some valuable lessons about himself.
“The camp taught me a great lesson on how to become a successful person in life,” he said.
“AGEM has made a great impact on my life.”