The vulnerable few months’ old bundle’s soft moaning sounds are quickly replaced by convulsions and a loud cry. Here it is again! Her despondent adoptive mommy affectionately hugs her and prays that the Lord will take away the withdrawal of drugs in her body. It is unfair … kids’ shoulders are not built to bear the weight of their parents’ choices … Wrong decision of a young mom in her youth.

Today she is 17, healthy, laughing, a teenager on the eve of adulthood. She had to make choices and take responsibility, take note of her circumstances and try to make sense of it. She chose to accept, forgive, to reach out, instead of receiving. She conscientiously reports to the social work office and helps to carry chairs, unpack and serve. She targets the children in her school that suffer and takes care of everything. Her values ​​are anchored and her passion is contagious. Youth like you, dear Zoë, give me hope for tomorrow!

Our youth, our ticket for the future, our hope. We need to help them survive in the current climate of political and economic challenges, from social media and worthless movies. We need to free them from a culture of entitlement, from a character without integrity and egotism and from no longer caring for you, next to me. Perhaps we should learn about rights again, but remember to fulfil your own responsibility first.

We celebrate Youth Day on June 16, but many South African children will not have the opportunity to develop into leaders. However, maybe we can make a difference. I took note of the following five ways in which we can help our youth develop into fully-fledged citizens with a difference:

  1. Feed

No one can work on an empty stomach and no child can develop without the necessary nutrition. Help a child.

  1. Educate

A sad reality is that some children will not grow up with bedtime stories or be put in bed by a loving mother. You can help finance a child’s education or open your home to experience your love.

  1. Empowerment

Help empower our young people through education so they can develop in women and men that can contribute to the growth of our country. Set an example. Live your values. Maintain integrity. Learn by showing without saying a word.

  1. Clean up

Instead of complaining about the children’s messy rooms, let them help you. Tackle their bedrooms and donate excess clothes, books and toys to needy children. Let your children be part of this. Teach them to reach out and care. Your unusable items become a jewel in another’s life! It is better to give than to receive!

  1. Read about matters

Help by knowing the needs of your own environment. Find out which emotional challenges our youth are facing, about drug use, the importance of discerning decisions, and emotional intelligence. With your knowledge you can make a difference no matter how small it is.

  1. Time

Love is spelled T I M E. Make time for each other, for your teenager, away from cell phones, television and other entertainment. May your home be a safe haven for your teenager to always return too.

On Youth Day we celebrate being young, dreams and creativity! Together we build a better future, one by one, with Zoë’s small contribution.

Suzette Oosthuizen, Regional Manager

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