Youth make a difference

* Tammy Lee-Smith, Chadwin Petersen and Imaan Dudukay.

Wondering what to do for Mandela Day today? Well, you don’t have to have much to make a difference, just ingenuity and determination -three young people who spoke at a Rotary event in Westlake last week are proof of that.

South Peninsula High School Grade 11 Imaan Dudukay told Constantia Rotary’s youth evening that she had always been passionate about giving back to the community.

Imaan is the president of her school’s Interact club, which she joined in Grade 8. Interact is a Rotary service organisation for 12- to-18-year-olds.

Imaan spoke about how the South Peninsula High club had run book drives, collected donations of sanitary pads for school girls and made sandwiches for day hospitals.

“We noticed that a lot of the elderly at the day hospitals need to eat something before they take their medication. So we asked the students to pack in extra sandwiches at school and we donated them to them.”

The club’s vice-president, Grade 12 pupil Tammy Lee Smith, leads an annual winter drive to make waterproof sleeping bags out of newspapers and plastic bags for the homeless.

The pupils also get their peers to donate ingredients for soup they make for old age homes.

But they don’t just drop off the soup and run – they spend time visiting the elderly residents and playing board games with them.

Imaan said they had also started working with St Michael’s Child and Youth Care Centre (“Charity shop to help aid St Michael’s Youth Care Centre,” Bulletin, May 9) in Plumstead, and had spent a day playing games and watching movies with the girls during the school holidays.

“It was an eye-opening experience for me. By hearing their stories, you realise how lucky you are to have simple things like being in a gated school and home.”

Chadwin Petersen, of Steenberg, is president of Steenberg Rotaract – Rotary International’s service organisation for 18-to-30-year-olds – which he started last year.

Chadwin said gang and gun violence and a lack of environmental awareness were just some of the problems his community faced. As someone who hopes to sit in Parliament one day, Chadwin said he realised the job of changing the country needed to start in his own neighbourhood.

Secretary of Constantia Rotary Geoff von Klemperer described Chadwin as the next Barack Obama.

During July, Mandela Month, Steenberg Rotaract will run the “It bothers me” campaign,
doing 16 acts of selflessness for things that “bother them” in
their community – they will demonstrate peacefully against shootings in Steenberg, visit a children’s shelter in Lotus River, run CV training for unemployed matriculants
and graduates, organise a book drive, make more than 1 000
sandwiches for Mandela Day, distribute Lego to the St George’s home for girls in Wynberg and more.

Chadwin said he had been studying public management at False Bay College as a way to get into local government, but he had run out of money to complete his studies.

Constantia Rotary president Ross Kelly said Chadwin had grown his Rotaract club from two to 17 members in the space of 18 months.

“Not many of us grow by 70% a year.”

Also during the evening, three Rotary exchange students from Germany spoke about their experiences in South Africa.They are being hosted by the families of three South African students who will visit Germany in December.

One of the Constantia Rotary members said she would organise a trip to Khayelitsha for the German students.