Young movers and shakers in KwaZulu Natal. It was Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who reminded the world that “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”.

In the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu Natal, there is cause to rejoice as a group of young people demonstrate their collective social conscience through entrepreneurial and collaborative peer projects a rejoinder to the label they have been given of the “Me Me Me generation”, focused on self-image, social media, and technological gadgets.

A dynamic group of high school students, calling themselves “Generation We”, inspire one another as they attract students from different and diverse backgrounds to meet and share their individual stories which resonate in “Our story”. Meet Phoka Mchunu and his mates Generation We is a peer to peer initiative, intent on finding commonality between the youth from top private and suburban state schools and underprivileged youth from the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The Generation We initiative is the brainchild of Kearsney College head prefect, Phoka Mchunu, who believes in young people empowering one another through sharing their stories and getting to know each other. He says there is a misconception that the youth of today are solely focused on technology, and unaware of and disinterested in wider society, history and their surroundings. “This initiative shows we’re certainly aware, and that we’re vocal about it,” Phoka says.

The group currently comprises students from five ISASA schools Kearsney College, St Mary’s DSG, St Anne’s Diocesan College, Hilton College and Michaelhouse as well as two local state schools: Kloof High School and Hillcrest High School. Participating pupils have partnered with the indomitable Sibusisiwe Myeni and her Imbeleko Foundation, through which talented, underprivileged children in the Valley of a Thousand Hills are identified and assisted with academic support, social interaction and education about leading a healthy lifestyle.

Nestled between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the valley’s breathtakingly spectacular scenery belies its notoriety as one of the epicentres of the HIV Aids pandemic, as a result of which many of its children have been orphaned and face a bleak Planting more than trees Earlier this year, 140 students from the Generation We group, together with 140 young people from the foundation, completed a five kilometre mentor hike through KwaNyuswa valley as part of an engagement programme. The event culminated in music, dance, discussion and a symbolic tree planting ceremony. The theme of the day was “My story. Your story. Our story”. “We, the youth of South Africa, need to find a common thread that binds us together, which will assist us in identifying our role in building a united and prosperous country,” Phoka says. He believes that this can be achieved through discussion, as well as sharing and enjoying activities such as music and dance. During the hike, students walked in pairs with someone they had never met before and shared their personal stories. In finding commonality and understanding, they empowered each other.

Read more here: Independent Education

Author: SUE MILES

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