Building up the skills of the youth

Leonie Wagner

EUGENE Leeson is in an enviable position – he has been given an opportunity to develop his own skills and, in the process, help change the lives of others.

The 20-year-old is one of 50 youths from around Nelson Mandela Bay participating in the inaugural provincial youth build programme, which was launched in Chatty, Port Elizabeth, on Friday by Human Settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

The programme is based on the concept of volunteerism and gives 50 youths the opportunity to work with contractors to build 50 houses.

Leeson joined the programme two months ago.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and to gain this experience. One day I would like to build my own house,” he said.

Olga Makalima, 60, is among those benefiting.

“For years I struggled. Now I got my house, during my birthday month,” she said.

Sauls-August handed over the keys of two furnished homes at the launch.

She encouraged the young people to be proactive in seeking employment.

“We are starting you on a road to becoming fully fledged contractors, and skills are valuable to any unemployed person,” she said.

“Don’t feel despondent but knock on every door seeking help.”

Sauls-August pointed out that more than half the volunteers were young women.

“These are the women who will lead us into the next generation,” she said.

NYDA board member Ayanda Makaula also attended the launch.

“This is a direct result of young people changing the world,” Makaula said.

Elthea Attwell, 24, said on behalf of the volunteers: “We are proud to serve our beloved country and our community.

“We learnt a lot of skills and we will keep on so that our tomorrows will shine bright like a diamond.”

The 50 volunteers have already built 32 units.

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