Thandeka Zuma: Youth Worker
We have the pleasure of introducing Thandeka Zuma is a Youth Worker and has been with dlalanathi for 5 years.
What is a ‘typical’ day in your working life?
In the office it is preparing for youth meetings, and looking at what we’re discussing with the groups. In the community I attend youth meetings and support youth development. I do whatever I have to do with the youth to support them to run community events. We talk about what they want to do as a group and how to plan and prepare to achieve these goals. For instance, there’s a group that works with a group of 40 kids and they’re currently fundraising for that group to have proper traditional attire so that when they perform they are all in the same uniform. They’re collecting donations and they’re also selling things to raise this money.
What has been a memorable moment in your work in the past month?
In the time that I have worked with one of the youth groups in Mpumuza I work with most of them are now working and some of them have found internships. One of the girls in the group is working on a forestry internship at the moment. She is from a family that is struggling financially and the internship came just at the right time to provide support.
What is one challenge you have had to contend with in this role?
When we began working in Mpumuza we struggled to find youth to work with. I guess this is one of the challenges in working with communities. We were new and people didn’t know us or what we were about. They didn’t want us invading their space. They had a strong sense of protecting yourself. I think it was a lack of trust. People have been taken advantage of a lot in the past and they don’t know who to trust really and it takes time to start building relationship and actually getting people’s trust.
Please share a story from the field
My story is about a young girl who has two children and had dropped out of school. Through the youth group she was participating in she felt that she should go back to school. At the beginning of the year she went to register and she is currently doing grade 10 at a local high school in the area. Although she is a bit old for her class she is happy that she’s getting time to complete her studies.
What motivated you to go into youth work?
I was part of a club in High School and we used to visit orphanages and hospitals and I think from there I realised how much I enjoyed working with people and I was always happy going to different places to do this. This is what motivated me to go into youth based community work.
And what keeps you going?
The results at the end of the day. Even if it’s one person, I did something. I was part of the joy of that change and it feels really good. And knowing that even when you have leave (our organisation exits a community after 4 years of work) you have imparted something that will last.
What three words describe you when you’re not at work?
I am a mom, a sister, and I’m just calm.