UNFPA Deputy Executive Director, Ms Laura Londen engages young people from loveLife

1 March 2018

As the UNFPA delegation drove into loveLife eMalahleni Y-Centre on 28 February 2018 the place was buzzing with activity, with more than 30 young people doing outdoor aerobics, while others were playing netball and others football. Eloquently briefing Ms. Londen on the Y-Centre and the services it offers to young people, Mr Benjamin Ntsoane, the Centre manager spoke in depth on the social ills faced by the community. The centre is situated in eMalahleni, a few kilometres from Witbank in Mpumalanga province and has been serving the community of eMalahleni and the surrounding community for over 13 years. The Y-centre is right in the heart of the township, focusing on young people who are in and out of school, where social ills are rife: drugs and substance abuse, unemployment, teenage pregnancy, high school drop-out rates, violent crime and HIV/AIDS.

UNFPA Deputy Executive Director, Ms Laura Londen, received a warm welcome from the staff and groundBreakers who were preparing to host a “Born Free” dialogue on drugs and substance abuse and how it impacts on GBV, HIV/Aids and Teen Pregnancy.  loveLife’s peer-to-peer network of groundBreakers and Mpintshis work in over 5,600 primary and high schools in South Africa, including TVET institutions. The focus is on addressing educational, social and  health  issues  that  affect  young  people  within  the  school  setting,  family  setting  and  the community at large.

The dialogue was very interactive and showed the depth of knowledge of the young people in the room, such that Ms. Londen recognised the efforts of the groundBreakers in responding to challenges they face and preventing risks that could negatively influence the potential for their development. She noted the great progress that has been achieved in terms of preventing and responding to the HIV/Aids epidemic in South Africa, but showed concern that according to statistics from the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), HIV prevalence among girls and young women aged 15 -24 has consistently been found to be too many times higher in comparison to boys and young men of the same age group, contributing over 30 per cent towards new infections.  

Before concluding the visit, the UNFPA delegation was given a tour of the Y-Centre and they had the opportunity to engage the groundBreakers responsible for the various programmes, for example Cyber Ys, Sports and recreation (love4life challenge), Media Ys & Adolescent Youth Friendly Services (AYFS). All of loveLife’s programmes are underpinned by media campaigns, which include radio, television, print, contact centre and cellphone based intervention.

The visit to loveLife achieved its purpose of engaging with young people, who are beneficiaries of a large-scale national Youth Leadership Development Programmes and it provided insight into the challenges and concerns of young people in the surrounding area of eMalahleni, which resulted in better understanding of youth programming in poor- resourced setting.