The Guard

The Truth On Board

All youth matter

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Dillane Msimanga who is a wheelchair bound young man from Thibela says that youth month means little to him because as a young man from a rural village in Qwaqwa he is not exposed to much of the opportunities that are there for the youth because of his disability.

“I wish that programmes for disabled youth could come to my community of Thibela. I use a wheelchair so getting around is very difficult for me. When I go to town in Phuthadithjaba I become anxious because the taxi drivers ignore me, and I have to wait for a taxi driven by someone that I know who doesn’t become impatient with me and helps me to get into the taxi. It is also not easy to get employment because of my disability,” Msimanga said in an interview with this publication.

Mohau Nhlapo who is the chairperson of the South African disabled youth in the Free State says that June month is youth month, and he advocates for the rights of disabled youth because as a young man living with albinism, he can relate to the challenges faced by all people living with disabilities.

“My primary concern is always to find ways to integrate disabled youth in rural areas into programs that empower them because most of the time when you go to urban areas the youth are exposed to opportunities that are there so I am a big advocate for trying to uplift the disabled youth in rural areas so that they can see that they also matter,” Nhlapo said.

Kelebogile Mangoejane who works for the department of Social Development (DSD) and works on disability programmes says that the department funds protective workshops that are attended by people with disability who are 18 years an older and the purpose of these workshops is to skill these youth so that they can become economically active. The department also works with different organisations or stakeholders that work with youth with disabilities and they share their database with such organisations. Several government departments also have EPWP social programmes that are mandated to incorporate 2% of people living with disabilities to participate in.

Mohau Nhlapo chairperson of South African disabled youth in the Free State addressing youth living with disabilities at an event.

“The purpose of our protective workshops is to skill people with disabilities so that they can learn a skill that will help them to be able to sustain themselves financially by selling the things that they will be making. I encourage youth with disabilities not to just sit at home but to participate in such activities that will help them to thrive. We also work with an organisation such as Cum Laude that works with people with disabilities, and they come to us and ask for people with disabilities that can participate in their learnerships, and programmes aimed to empower them.

The department also has an EPWP programme for example when we are looking for a clerk, we must make sure that 2% of people with disability are included in EPWP programmes. I urge people with disabilities to come to our offices and ask about what opportunities are available for them, they must avoid just staying at home feeling sorry for themselves because that is not good for them,” Mangoejane said while talking to The Guard.