Meet Aluwani Mantsha from Afrika Tikkun’s Alex centre

Afrika Tikkun will reach over 400 South African young people through their long-term commitment to the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. We sat down with Facilitator, Aluwani Mantsha, to discuss Alex Centre and the ‘Adventurous Journey’ that the programme’s young people have been on.

Tell us about Alex Centre and your programme.

Built in 1902, Alexandra was the first township in South Africa. The community has a large population and faces a number of social issues. Young people are eager to enrol at the centre to receive an education, feel safe and leave the streets behind them.

The centre has five departments. My department is Child and Youth Development (CYD) and works with 6–18-year-olds. As a facilitator, my priorities centre on executing a variety of youth programmes. I am responsible for Health and Fitness, which deals with hygiene, nutrition and physical health.

What have you learned from the young people you have worked with so far?

Resilience, more than anything. I have a journalism background, so I was aware of the challenges on the ground. The young people at the centre do not ‘see’ their current difficulties and accept them as inevitable. Their determination to work harder for their goals is motivating. Rather than being limited by their upbringing, what they want to achieve comes first.

What did you hope to get out of the first Adventurous Journey?

As part of completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, Adventurous Journeys were envisioned to teach young people about teamwork and leadership. In our case, we organised a supervised camp for two days and one night to teach the young people about the practical elements required for survival in many conditions.

Not only was I interested to see how the kids would react in an unfamiliar setting, I also wanted to put myself to the test. I am a physical person; I run, play football and so on. Camping, on the other hand, was an entirely different experience! What was fantastic about the adventurous journey was that it produced leaders among the young people, some of whom I never expected to lead. They brought out a different version of themselves, demonstrating how much they can grow. Even now within the centre, you can point out a young person who is part of the programme from a distance because of the way they conduct themselves.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is Stonehage Fleming’s flagship charitable commitment for the next 3 years. The Award will be delivered by Afrika Tikkun reaching almost 700 disadvantaged young people in South Africa across the partnership.

What did you want the young people to get out of the experience?

We pushed these young people out of their comfort zones, and they surprised me with their confidence, leadership, and other abilities. One young person has decided to learn Spanish. That really stood out to me. The programme gives people the opportunity to contemplate becoming global citizens; they are now looking beyond South Africa and their immediate surroundings.

The programme also highlighted the willingness of young people to assist others without hesitation, given the opportunity. I am still learning about the ripple effect of that trip and eagerly await completing the rest of the programme.

Further reading: Stonehage Fleming supports the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award