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Making a Difference : Okuhle Youth Organization

Okuhle Youth Organization is a dynamic organisation based in Ladysmith KwaZulu-Natal in the Uthukela District. They work closely with the different departments such as Department of Health, Education and Social Development to promote the power of education, health, and wellness to the youth. Their duties include but are not limited to: Awareness Campaigns, Community Projects and Outreach programmes, Skills Development, Life Skills Programmes, Pad Drive Initiatives , Grocery Collection and Food Drive Initiatives.

The organization was formed on the 5th of July 2015, it was formed because their community needed a vibrant and youth led organisation in Ladysmith that would tackle health and social economic issues affecting young people in the area. The mission is to equip young people with the necessary skills that they need and can possibly use in future.

Having an amazing childhood ,debating and public speaking interests are what fuelled her existing love for activism today. Nqobile Khumalo (28), a final year student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal  is the chairperson of Okuhle Youth organization , she grew up in a Christian household ,so the art of giving and loving is a concept that was instilled in the very early stages of her life. Therefore, community outreach, engagement and community aid came naturally so it was inevitable for her to get involved in community work officially.

Okuhle Youth Organizations’ greatest achievement was winning the KZN Young Achievers Award in 2017 for being the best active youth organization in KwaZulu-Natal.  “It was amazing getting recognition for all the hard work and efforts that we put in the quest of changing the lives of young people,” says Khumalo.

Okuhle Youth Organization has changed many peoples lives, for instance they had a food drive initiative in the Mgazini area in Driefontein a rural community within Ladysmith. They assisted the family with food parcels, sanitary pads, and second-hand clothing.

This specific family had little to nothing during the Covid-19 lockdown as it was impossible for them to make a living since they sold food and snacks at neighbouring schools.  Khumalo says it was a humbling to see their aid go to the right hands, “We love to help people who desperately need the assistance, their appreciation lingers in our minds until this very day, and this pushes us to help more people wherever we can.”

What sets them apart from other non-profit organizations is that they are all about young people. Chairperson, Nqobile Khumalo says, “We are an organization formed by the youth, for the youth which means nothing for us without us. In South Africa we have a problem of youth skills and expertise not being fully utilized, leadership positions are being occupied by old people and old ideals. This sets us apart from the rest because we are all young people with a passion for working for other young people.”

Their goals for the next three to five years include, taking up more programmes and projects that will reach a greater number of people than they have in the past. The organization wants to transition from working within their district and municipality to extending to provincial and national departments. Being a non-profit organization is not easy because most resources are acquired through donations and sometimes the tap runs dry, so they hope to achieve this by consistence, perseverance and knocking on the right doors.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a major barrier in our work because we constantly have to meet physically, the restrictions really dampened things over the past years so we can only hope the situation will improve. We want to properly and fully resume with our work to create change,” concludes Khumalo.

Okuhle Youth Organization accepts all sorts of donations, they do not limit themselves, they are open for non-perishable food items, sanitary pads , school uniforms and cleaning materials. For people that want to start their own organization ,Khumalo advises that one needs to approach the Department of Social Development in their district to get assistance and directive on the process of registering a non-profit organization. The simple requirements are that the organization needs to have a management committee and a constitution that will guide the organization on how it will operate. Above all, passion is crucial because registering an organization is the easiest part but keeping it functional and active is another story that requires passion and constant commitment.

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