The Path out of Poverty (POP) programme seeks to transform rural communities, by offering the next generation of children the opportunity to become healthy, educated and self-confident. The aim is to produce young people who are able to take up leadership roles in their own communities.
The programme concentrates on healing the past by enabling young people to dream, build self-esteem, ability and skills. This way will be able to broaden their horizons and take advantage of new opportunities.
Currently there are eight POP centres in the Swartland/West Coast region of the Cape Province. Each with the aim of providing rural children and youth with a range of ‘enabling’ projects. These include projects on education, health, personal development (wellness) and caring for the planet.
Each of the centres has four open days a year, motivated by the need for community feedback and their effect on the young people. Open days also provide an opportunity for Centre Managers to hear how the POP programme might be improved. But, above all, they offer a platform for local people to get involved. Fold are invited to share their skills and talents with the youth; or just to spend time with the youngsters, perhaps reading to the little ones or just being a ‘friend’ to the older kids.
Prince Albert’s POP youth centre held an open day on the first Saturday of April. Rodine Barends, who runs the centre, reported that the event was a great success. And she puts that down to the many youth orientated activities that were on offer, including Kickboxing, Dancing, Drama productions, Singing and Poetry readings.
“The number of townspeople and youth attending this event was unbelievable,” says Rodine, “there were queues outside the POP centre, all desperate to be part of the day. In total we had 210 children and 96 adults. Chicken and noodle salad was pouring out of the kitchen throughout the day.
But most moving of all, she said, was seeing how, “Some of the parents were brought to tears as they watched how their children had grown in certain activities. The development of our young people is just amazing!”