“Make a small change rather than doing nothing”

Play Your Part ambassador Bathulile Mdabula and her team of five are part of Rising Youth Movement. They work diligently to help create a better future for youth in their communities.

Bathulile Mdabula change rising youth movement
Bathulile Mdabula (middle) says she and her team in the Rising Youth Movement aim to create healthier and more positive communities. Here is the team: Simphiwe Laxa (from left), Simphiwe Mpahlwa, Bathulile Siviwe Mdabula, Lusindiso Simani, Mncedisi Mqedazwe (Image supplied)

Melissa Javan
Bathulile Mdabula always wanted to make a difference in her community, but she did not know how to go about it. When she started noticing how many young people quit school and turned to alcohol, she and four others decided to take action.

In March 2016, Mdabula, who is from Port Elizabeth, formed nonprofit organisation Rising Youth Movement (RYM) with Mncedisi Mqedazwe, the vice-chairperson; Simphiwe Mphahlwa, the administrator; Lusindiso Samani, the treasurer; and Simphiwe Laxa, who handles publicity. Before setting up RYM, the five worked for other organisations, for between five and eight years.

RYM works to educate and revitalise young people through life skills, educational games, literacy and numeracy programmes, Mdabula says. “[We] strive to improve our communities by having holiday programmes and camps.

“Our guiding vision is the belief that with support and working together in our communities we can build a better tomorrow.”

The organisation often works with partners on projects; for example, on rehabilitation programmes, it joins the Mfesane Project for counselling.

Mdabula spoke to Brand South Africa journalist Melissa Javan about her role as a Play Your Part ambassador.

Melissa Javan: How old were you when you started working in your community?
Bathulile Mdabula: I’ve been involved in community projects since I was 18.

MJ: Why did you get involved in this project?
BM: My team and I wanted to break the cycle of young people quitting school. We also wanted to have an impact on their way of thinking.

MJ: Who are the target beneficiaries of this project?
BM: Young people in various communities. We are currently working in New Brighton, but will soon move to KwaZakhele.

MJ: What have been your highlights of your community work so far?
BM: I have many, but one that captures my heart is seeing a change in young people; for them to want to go back to school and hearing reports from schools that we have worked with about how our work has changed the lives of the children who are involved in our programmes. We are told of their performance and attitude towards school.

MJ: If a person wants to play their part, what steps can they take to get people involved in a project or initiative?
BM: Social media platforms such as Facebook have many organisations and people who do beautiful work in their communities. Follow them and volunteer at an organisation that is making an impact in the field in which you are passionate. Be involved in community work such as a soup kitchen or reading with children in homeless shelters.

MJ: Why should South Africans play their part?
BM: We have heard people complain about the government not helping, so if you want a change in your community you have to be the change. Everything starts with one person who resolves the issues that we have. Making a small change is better than doing nothing and other people — such as your friends or people in your community — will follow when you play your part.

MJ: Do you use technology or social media to spread your message?
BM: Yes, we use Facebook mostly. We alert people about our work, show them pictures and advertise when we are going to a certain school or community so that they can join us.

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material