Building Youth Volunteering Culture: Getting CSOs on Board

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 11:44
South Africa should work towards creating a culture of promoting youth volunteering to enable young people to play a role in finding solutions to some of the development challenges affecting communities.


I well love to put of the movement, build our nation shape this rainbow( 0714608123)
Hey i have been reading your articles and i am very impressed of the effort that you guys make to shape our country into a better place to live for the future generations. My name is Unathi Jonginamba, I live in Cape Town - khayelitsha. i would love to donate my time in helping those who mostly need my help. don't you perhaps have facilities aroubd where i live that need voluunteers. My e-mail address - Thanx.
This is wonderful, thank you for the work!!! from Moussa Harouner on behalf of HASSA
This is so true as the township we work in on the Cape Flats you`ll find many young people just ''hanging out'' and passing time. Instead of giving that time to a good cause instead of giving it to mixit.

Hi Phumla My name is Kirsten Bennett and I’m currently an intern at Habitat for Humanity Western Cape. I read your article in this week’s SANGONET e-newsletter and found it very interesting as I too feel passionately about increasing the number of youth volunteers in South Africa. I matriculated last year at Rustenburg Girls and have been involved in outreach programmes from the start of high school and so I understand the impact it makes on a young person’s life as well as the greater community. I am working on a project here at Habitat called the National Youth Build, which is happening in the last two weeks of June this year. It aims to encourage youth from schools, universities and churches across South Africa to fundraise and ultimately volunteer to build. The goal is to build 50 houses across three provinces; Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN. At Habitat we are working together towards creating more volunteer opportunities, just like you stated in your article; “In line with the NYDA’s vision, South Africa should work towards creating the number of volunteer-involving opportunities and increase the number of young people involved in volunteer work.”. Thank you for a great article! Have a good day

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) hosted the Knowledge Network seminar under the theme ‘Increasing Youth Volunteering in South African Civil Society’, from 24-25 January 2012 in Benoni, east of Johannesburg. The event was attended by approximately 100 delegates from civil society organisations, student-led organisations and funding institutions, among others.

Thulani Tshefuta, chairperson of the South African Youth Council, emphasised the need to balance ‘voluntarism’ and ‘volunteerism’ among the youth. He explained the importance of valuing both concepts; voluntarism being the actual work contributed in helping communities, and volunteerism being the empowerment of the volunteers in order to sustain and motivate them to keep practising it.

Government and civil society should begin to encourage, motivate and emphasise the significance of volunteering to the youth, which can also reduce unemployment, one of the development challenges affecting young people in the country. While government and CSOs have already introduced initiatives aimed at encouraging voluntarism, the need to continue instilling and sustaining the culture of volunteering is visible.

The question however is, what role does volunteering play and how can one benefit from it.

Volunteering provides a platform for youth to give back to communities. It also provides an opportunity for them to attain the necessary skills and experience in preparation for their careers.

One of the unique features of this seminar was the introduction of the ‘Open Space Technology’, a methodology used to conduct the seminar. With this methodology, participants are involved in creating the ‘agenda wall’ and leading group discussions. Based on the main theme, participants were encouraged to introduce sub-themes relevant to their development needs. This approach provided a platform to contribute, learn and share ideas and experiences of how civil society and government could increase youth volunteering opportunities in South Africa.

Some of the topics discussed by the groups focused on motivating youth to volunteer, the use of information communication technology to promote volunteering, bridging the gap between rural and urban youth, using volunteers to transform communities, developing a policy on volunteering as well as the  relationship between volunteering and employment.

Volunteering should also be about the willingness to give back to communities and a way of uplifting them.

However, the provision of incentives, when available, is one way of empowering volunteers. In support of the need to increase volunteer programmes, Tshefuta recommended that volunteers should be awarded certificates of acknowledgement signed by officials of volunteer bodies after they have accumulated a certain number of hours of work.

The seminar coincided with the launch of Cooperation between the Flemish Government and NYDA, ‘Promoting and Up-Scaling Youth Volunteering in Civil Society Organisations in South Africa’. Speaking during the launch, NYDA deputy chairperson, Yeshern Pillay, explained that, “Youth engagement in a community can be beneficial not only to the future of an individual, but to community advancement as well.”

In line with the NYDA’s vision, South Africa should work towards creating the number of volunteer-involving opportunities and increase the number of young people involved in volunteer work.

Below are some of the speeches presented at the launch of the Cooperation between the Flemish Government and NYDA ‘Promoting and Up-scaling Youth Volunteering in Civil Society Organisations in South Africa,’ which coincided with the Knowledge Network seminar. - Phumla Pearl Mhlanga is an intern at SANGONeT.
Phumla Mhlanga