Fountain of Youth (foYU) was founded in Soweto where its head office is located. The organisation has established two satellite office, one in Galeshewe (near Kimberley under the Northern Cape Province) and another in Wolmaransdad (falling under North West Province), both managed by a small but effective team of local community development officers. In the near future, the organisation intends to establish satellite offices in various peri-urban and rural areas in all nine provinces of South Africa.
foYU is an independent non-governmental / nonprofit organisation (NPO) that is positioned to offer, provide and render an inter-sectoral and integrated developmental social service to meet the human and social needs of vulnerable communities, in particular children, youth and their respective families within Southern African Development Community. Fountain of Youth’s long-term goal is to actively contribute towards a new dispensation that deliberately supports and strengthens families in the country by eliminating all conditions eroding the family, inter alia, poverty and inequality, unemployment, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) / Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), gender inequality and gender-based violence, domestic violence and child abuse. As a youth focused non-governmental (NGO) with not for gain objectives, foYU focuses on the rural and peri-urban context where it is positioned as a youth sector implementing agent, social services provider as well as a policy-orientated organisation that aims to influence policy development and good practice.
The organisation‘s scope of work targets both historically disadvantage communities in rural and peri-urban setting where it is positioned to act as an implementing agent on behalf of government or through its own initiative. foYU target group is as follows:
- Homeless youth (living and working on streets);
- Youth from poor households;
- Unemployed youth;
- School aged-out-school youth;
- Youth women;
- Youth at risk (young people living with HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases, youth heading households, youth in conflict with the law and youth abusing dependency creating substances);
- Youth in rural areas;
- Orphaned youth and
- Youth with disabilities.
Fountain of Youth believes that young people need support and guidance in facing the many challenges of today as well as emerging ones. At the same time, the youth should be encouraged and actively engaged in addressing societal problems. These grouping puts the organisation in the position to also work closely with families, e.g. child, single-parent and female headed households. The organisation‘s strength lies in its community-driven and people-centred approach to its delivery of its services, projects and programmes.
An attempt to profile this social group foYU has categorised its various target youth groups as follows:
School Going Young People
Young people in institutions of learning both at high school and tertiary institutions. They present special needs such as for information in general, life challenges, need for resources to pursue further education need to understand employment trends or economic opportunities post schooling-life.
Young People Living on the Streets
Forced out of their families and communities by whatever conditions, they have opted to live and work in the street. They are generally subjected to harassment, brutality and sub-human living conditions.
Young people who are at risk because of their gender in a violent patriarchal society. These are young women subjected to rape, sexual abuse, violence, harassment and unplanned teenage pregnancy. Young women experience unemployment more frequently than their young male counter-parts and tend to have fewer occupational/entrepreneurial opportunities. Issues of gender are an impediment to social development of this group if they are not attended to.
Youth Trapped in Drugs and Alcohol
At times, being victims of specific circumstances and realities over which they have no or little control, these young men and women are found trapped in drugs and alcohol abuse vicious cycle.
This constitutes two broad categories:
- Young people who have not completed their education to the level initially planned (i.e. young people who are out of school and not in any employment) and are usually subjected to under employment and chronic unemployment as some of them are likely not to be employed or involved in any economic activity that is income generating in their lives if no intervention is made.
- Young people who have acquired a specialised skill but are unable to access employment. Generally known as unemployed graduates.
The experience of unemployment can bring with it a number of social ills including participation in crime, drug and alcohol abuse and the loss of confidence and interest to participate in meaningful activities of the broader society.
Rural and Urban Youth
Young women and men in rural areas are often more disadvantaged than those who live in urban settings. They have less access to services and facilities and the opportunities for employment are far less than in urban areas. Dropping out of school to join the army of unemployed youth who have no hope of ever working in their lives is not uncommon in this group. Where one is born somehow dictates their life and destiny, and this becomes a vicious cycle that must be broken.
Young People Heading Households
In most cases these are young men and women who are orphans as a result of HIV and AIDS related diseases and other social problems and they find themselves looking after siblings. Although this is not a new phenomenon in our country as migrant labour system did create this group of young people but the magnitude is alarming with HIV and AIDS and other social challenges. If these young people are not attended to as a special group, long-term impact will be unbearable.
Young People with Disabilities
Finding themselves in the midst of a vulnerable group, they become even more vulnerable given stigma associated with some forms of disability.
Young Ex-offenders / Inmates
Youth with a criminal record, e.g. offenders, ex-offenders, etc. Society in general or potential employers is likely to reject solely due to their record.
HIV/AIDS Infected and Affected Youth
Young people who are affected and those who are living with HIV and AIDS. In some instances, those who are affected are looking after family members, mainly parents living with HIV and AIDS. A slightly different group from the previous one, because adults are still alive but too sick to assume their parental responsibilities.
What has emerged convincingly is that youth is not a homogeneous group. Different age categories have specific needs and challenges, which must be addressed as such in any policy or strategy that seeks to advance this group in society. Despite segmentation of youth Fountain of Youth‘s five years of extensive research reveals that there is general knowledge and acknowledgement of the challenges and threats associated with this group as a whole.
foYU is a nonprofit entity registered in terms of the Nonprofit Organisation Act No.71 of 1997 and is therefore regulated by the Department of Social Development as a nonprofit organisation. Members of the organisation strongly believe that compliance to sound corporative governance principles as set out in King III and Acts that govern nonprofit organisations, form the essence in ensuring beneficiaries that government and NGOs deem to serve are indeed served with dignity and urgency. The management committee commits to act in the best interest of the organisation and its beneficiaries by focusing on its mission to promote and create conditions for accelerated and shared growth and development by providing sustainable socio-economic and development solutions catering for the needs of communities, young people in particular and local governments. This will be achieved through strategic leadership and sound judgement in the design and implementation of projects and programmes.
The organisation is therefore committed to an open governance process and espouses the following values, namely; community-orientation, cooperation and teamwork, effective communication, empowerment and inclusive participation, professionalism and efficiency, socially responsible, and transparency. As an independent nonprofit organisation governed by a management committee and has no shareholding, the organisation meets the requirements of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) ratings. In terms of its BEE scorecard, the organisation is therefore measured on the composition of its staff, and beneficiaries of services rendered. The organisation’s procurement policy support corporate and professional entities run and owned by Historically Disadvantaged Persons as viable suppliers to source services and products from, including wherever possible the services of black owned consultants or services providers will sub-contracted.
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