Khulile Jacobs’ Duncan Village project gives hope to the youth

Khulile Jacobs
INSPIRED TO HELP: Khulile Jacobs
Image: SUPPLIED

Determined to address the various challenges facing the youth of Duncan Village, East London resident Khulile Jacobs has made it his mission to empower and mentor youngsters.

Jacobs, who founded non-profit organisation the Duncan Village Youth Developmental Initiative in 2010, has established a series of programmes geared towards uplifting the youth.

The initiative — which started with one mentorship programme — now has more than 150 youngsters taking part in five different programmes.

From providing digital skills and career advice to anti-substance abuse and art development programmes, the initiative aims to develop and support the youth in various spheres of life.

“Our main role is to advocate for youth development and the collaboration and/or partnership approach in the regard,” said Jacobs, who attributes his drive to help others to his late grandmother and parents.

“My main inspiration for this kind of work comes from my late grandmother and both my parents.

“My late father always used to encourage me to dream and set myself goals with no limits and boundaries.

“He always used to say, ‘you can achieve anything and everything’," said Jacobs, 33, who grew up in Mdantsane and Ziphunzana.

Aiming to instil the same sense of possibility, ambition and hope in youngsters, Jacobs said the NPO aimed to create a supportive and positive environment.

“The main focus and mandate is to create an enabling environment for youngsters to gain access to development opportunities,” said Jacobs, who became the youngest board member of the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition after he was nominated to be its deputy chair in 2018.

“Our organisation relies on funding and grant donations from the public and private sector and our work has grown over the years.

“We initially began our services with one programme, which was the youth mentorship programme.

This programme focused mainly on psychosocial challenges that school pupils grappled with such as substance and drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, victim empowerment and gender-based violence.

“The main activities in the programme include workshops covering life skills and career guidance sessions, outreach sessions, awareness campaigns, empowerment dialogues and events.

“These are mainly directed at school learners.

We currently have more projects running under this programme, namely arts youth mentorship, the “Digify Africa” Ilizwe Lam Digital Empowerment Programme [and] anti-substance abuse  and gender-based violence projects,” Jacobs said.

“We also support the youth living with disabilities through these programmes.”

Jacobs said some of the greatest highlights and successes of the organisation were often rooted in the success of pupils

“In 2020 we had our first beneficiary conversion. This means a learner beneficiary who was doing grade 12 in 2019 graduated and become one of our facilitators in 2020.

“This was a big very moment for our organisation,” said Jacobs.

He said nothing beat the joy of engaging with youngsters and seeing them succeed.

“The most rewarding thing about this work for me has to be the feeling and fulfilment I get when I see the positivity and joy in the eyes of the young learners when we are engaging them in our programmes and the optimism they come out with from the sessions,” Jacobs said.

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