“My interests lie in encouraging and empowering young people in rural areas to step in and make things happen regardless of their respective backgrounds.” These are the words of Thabang Sekhwela, Executive Director at Young Minds in Action, a Non-Profit Organization founded in April 2015 in Mookgo Block 7 Village in Bolobedu region, Limpopo.
Thabang Sekhwela, Lazarus Mashai, Innocent Colly Ramatladi and Nthabiseng Mathipa are the primary founders of YMA. They are a group of students, professionals and unemployed young people who are for the growth and benefit of other young people in rural areas. The organisation was formed after its founders realised that there was a dire need to create a platform for rural youth to showcase their talents to the country, and consequently to the rest of the world.
Because talent is in abundance, YMA designed heterogeneous departments to suit individual needs. Learners, from grade 10-11, can enjoy the Academic Mentorship programme, where they get assistance in subjects such as Mathematics; Mathematical Literacy; Life Sciences; Physical sciences and Geography. Another programme is in the pipelines to assist learners in the lower grades.
Many of these young people are highly talented but with no one to channel them in the right direction. Hence, their talents are often wasted in rural areas.
Other departments include Ministries, Sport and Entertainment, as well as Arts & Culture. Molokwane Primary School, in particular, has contributed immensely in the YMA soccer team, by making its school grounds available for after school practice sessions.
Currently, YMA has their offices at a property owned by one of their sponsors, Mr Khosa, where he has a spaza shop. Albeit some members of the community understand the vision and are of great help, most of the programmes ready to be implemented require substantial amounts of money. To date, the organization has been depending on contributions made by the members of the organization to set up a website and to cover other operational costs.
Despite these challenges, YMA has managed to successfully host two Youth Conferences and the 3rd one is scheduled to take place in July. Their organisational goals and visions include operating in more than 15 villages by the end of 2018, building a fully equipped centre with a multi-purpose hall for community use, and taking as many young people off the streets as possible. “A major goal, as far as the development of Arts & Culture is concerned, is having our African cultures made special to the rest of the world, through unrecognized talent”, says Thabang Sekhwela.
To find out how you can contribute or be a volunteer, follow @YMA_OfficalSA on Twitter or visit their website: www.yma.org.za