Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in partnership with MTV Staying Alive Foundation (MTV SAF) together with the King Cetshwayo District Department of Health recently launched the ground-breaking MTV Shuga programme in Richards Bay. This partnership is a drive to empower young people from local mine communities with tools to improve their health and wellbeing.
The launch follows RBM`s announcement last year in June that it has invested R3.7 million to ensure that the peer educators and their leaders work closely with community structures and the King Cetshwayo District Municipality Department of Health to reach as many young people as possible. The contribution by RBM will cover, among other things, training of 50 peer educators, peer educator materials and equipment, stipends, and technical support. After weeks of vigorous application and interview processes, 60 candidates were selected to attend the MTV Shuga training programme to help prepare them for the months ahead of field work.
Siphiwe Shobede from KwaMbonambi is one of the peer educators and she had this to say, “I am glad that I was one of those chosen to be a peer educator. For me it’s a sign of confidence and trust in my abilities.” Shobede adds that she is aware of the many challenges facing young people in her area, and she is glad that this programme will address some of those.
Nompilo Sogwaza from KwaSokhulu, says her mission is to encourage young people from rural areas never to doubt themselves. “Providing positive information will help them avoid making mistakes related to life choices and enable them to succeed. I am excited to be part of that journey with them,” she offers. “Our investment in this project, which is a holistic approach to ensuring the health and wellness of our young people - is a further indication of RBM’s commitment to empowering our youth,” says Bheki Nowele, general manager, communications and community relations, RBM.
“I hope that through this programme we are providing the proper tools to help our youth better navigate the challenges they face on a daily basis. We are also optimistic that this programme will help define a path to a brighter future, changing helplessness to motivated and determined,” added Nowele. “Sexuality education, including HIV prevention, is often information-based and addresses the human body as if it were devoid of histories, experiences and feelings. However, sexuality education should also be about our social, emotional, and sexual intelligences and how their development has either been supported, delayed, or harmed.
Efforts to reduce the impact of HIV, unplanned pregnancies and sexual violence among youth can be significantly enhanced when they contribute to young people’s development into whole, intact and caring human beings with the desire and ability to act in ways that care for themselves and others,” says Tshireletso Yvonne Diogo, country manager, MTV SAF.
Sthandile Mkhwanazi, who hails from KwaSokhulu says the power of enlightening local youth with information about activities which if not checked, might ruin their lives is very important. We are grateful and feel blessed to have this opportunity to share life changing skills and tools with our peers.”