June 16 2008 at 12:28PM
By Vivian Attwood
On Friday, just in time for Monday’s celebration of Youth Day, nine special youths underwent a rite of passage at the Durban Children’s Home (DCH) in Glenwood.
The teenagers wore broad smiles, and carried themselves with new-found confidence as they accepted their certificates of graduation from the I Care/DCH Khutaza Adolescent Development Programme.
Among the graduates were Keegan Zulu, 16, and Fundu Shezi, who recently turned 20. These youngsters featured in the article "Breaking ties with the street" (Daily News June 9).
The tenth and final episode in our series on the lives of Durban’s street children, the story highlighted the feelings of sadness and abandonment these two teens have had to live with.
The I Care programme, aimed at developing life skills in children who have made the decision to abandon street life, has made a significant difference to the outlook and future prospects of Zulu, Shezi and their fellow graduates.
All are now aware they did not forfeit any of their rights as human beings when they lived on the streets.
"I learned that I am a person, just like any other person. I will return to my studies because I want to get a job and have my own family one day," said Shezi.
"I have learned to respect myself and others, and to show love," added Zulu.
The three-month I Care programme is just the first step on a long road for youngsters who are leaving the streets, but they will be monitored by the organisation as they are reintegrated into their communities and resume their schooling.
For perhaps the first time in their young lives, these teenagers can hold their heads up high as they join the rest of the country in celebrating National Youth Day.
The I Care Adolescent Development Programme is entirely dependent on donations from the public and business sector.
The programme that has just ended was made possible by the Southern Sun group.
If you would like to make a contribution to the cost of running the next programme, these are the banking details for the organisation: Nedbank, Account number 1648064566, KZN Business Branch, Code 164826.
For inquiries, call Linda Treadwell at 083 479 3941 or 031 572 6870, or visit the I Care website at: http://www.icare.co.za