The world has been in turmoil for the past two years and the young people in South Africa have been through a particularly challenging time; with school learning being disrupted due to Covid closures and restrictions. These disruptions have been felt everywhere, but none more so than in some of the deeply rural areas, where online learning was not an option, and where increasing poverty and declining standards of living have contributed to a downward social spiral, hitting hardest at the youth. A UNICEF report details some of these findings which are a cause for concern for our youth.
This is why Sappi is delighted to reintroduce its very popular Sappi Abashintshi Holiday Programme taking place during the first two weeks of the South African July holidays in selected communities in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Mpumalanga. “It has been a long two years for the youth in our communities,” says Mpho Lethoko, General Manager Communications for Sappi Southern Africa. “Due to Covid restrictions we have not been able to support the programme since our last one held in December 2019, and we know that is has been greatly missed.”
The Abashintshi Social Mobilisation Programme is a Sappi-sponsored initiative which deals with bringing community change from within, and it is achieved by the ‘changers’ or ‘Abashintshi’ – youngsters from various communities neighbouring Sappi in KZN and Mpumalanga – who have been trained in being facilitators of change within their communities by using the Asset-based community development (ABCD) approach to uplift and empower our local communities.
During school holidays, the Abashintshi arrange the very popular holiday programmes for school children, providing them with the opportunity to participate in healthy sporting and creative activities, whilst also using their Life Skills training to equip the children with leadership and social skills. Communities encourage these educational and fun activities that keep children off the streets, and out of trouble, and that help build strong community bonds. Activities range from sporting tournaments with soccer and netball as firm favourites, talent shows, dancing competitions, reading sessions and colouring-in for the younger children, organised traditional games and many other creative activities.
As the Abashintshi have also received solid training in Life Skills, they are not just there to provide much-needed light relief and recreation for the youngsters, but they are also skilled in providing good support and guidance to youths who may be experiencing societal pressure in environments where drug and alcohol abuse is often of concern. A Sappi team of foresters and community liaison officers also participate in the holiday programmes, providing additional support to the Abashintshi and the sponsored prizes ensure that everyone has an enjoyable, fun experience – something that is very necessary after two very difficult years for our country’s youth.
Umshintshi Thandiwe Masina from Kempston in Mpumalanga comments, “The Abashintshi Holiday Programme means a lot to everyone in my community, because it keeps the children off the streets, away from bad influences,” while Wendy Zunguze from Mjindini says, “The programme gets the kids all hyped-up as it encourages them to show off their talents and the educational games test their knowledge.”
Zandile Mshengu from Pinewoods in the KZN Midlands concurs, “We are so glad that the Holiday Programme is back this year. We were so worried about disappointing the children who kept asking when it was coming back. The parents are also thankful that we can help in keeping the children safe and participating in healthy activities. Thank you Sappi for making this possible once again.”
For further information
External Communications Lead
Sappi Southern Africa
Tel +27 (0)31 001 7300
Sappi is a leading global provider of powerful everyday materials made from woodfibre-based renewable resources. As a diversified, innovative and trusted leader focused on sustainable processes and products, we seek to support a more circular economy.
Sappi is powered by the expertise of more than 12,000 people worldwide; with headquarters in four key regions: South Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.
Locally, we have a footprint in Gauteng (head office), KwaZulu Natal (three mills, forestry operations and a shared services hub), Mpumalanga (two mills and forestry operations) and the Western Cape (sales office staff). Our product offering in South Africa include dissolving pulp, packaging and speciality papers, graphic papers and forestry products.
We also generate shared value in the communities in which we operate, by investing in skills training and SMME development to boost employment and grow the economy.
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