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It is estimated that more than 3.2 million learners are bullied yearly in South Africa. In addition, over 67% of bully victims said that they won’t ask a teacher for help because they don’t necessarily think it will change their situation.
Masiwakhe Bulu was one such learner who had to deal with and overcome the effects of bullying as a young boy. In primary school, the other kids used to bully him because of the burn scars on his arms. Now in his early twenties, Masiwakhe is passionate about seeing change in his community, but it took a lot of grit, grace, and growth to get him to where he is today. With the help of gold Youth Development Agency (gold-youth), as well as supportive mentors and peers, Masiwakhe learnt to accept himself and realised that his outward appearance doesn’t define him. He also learnt about topics such as bullying and leadership through the gold Peer Education education Programme.
gold-youth desires to see young Africans live purposeful lives and lead Africa into its full social and economic potential. Their model is based on the idea that personal change leads to group change, which leads to community change. With an audacious goal to develop 10 million young African leaders with character and integrity to mobilise their generation with the knowledge, tools and support to reach their full potential, gold-youth empowers peer leaders to become positive role models.
For over 17 years the organisation has been building a lasting systemic solution that changes generations, one person, one family and one community at a time.
The organisation believes strongly in a long-term, holistic approach to mentoring young people.
“Most young people in Africa are growing up in communities that offer little visible hope,” says gold-youth’s founder, Susannah Farr. “But our dream is for each young person to realise that their life has purpose and value. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). As gold-youth, we disciple youth into knowing their purpose and value, creating ripples of change in character and identity as salt and light join together. This creates a momentum that tackles the evident issues of social behavioural change, education and unemployment. We focus on the one, as Jesus did, and see the impact on many.”
At the heart of peer education is the fact that many people make changes not only based on what they know, but on the opinions and actions of their trusted peers. More often than not, the message giver is the strongest message.
The gold Programme provided Masiwakhe with a safe space to share his story, heal, and grow.
“Joining this programme helped me to start asking myself important questions like ‘who am I, really?’ and ‘what does it mean to be a leader?’ It made me think about my character and who I am as a person,” says Masiwakhe.
“When I joined the programme, I was able to voice my thoughts and feelings because it was a safe space,” he shares.
” Who you are is embedded within you – deep down inside – and that’s where you have to look. God has instilled a gift within each and every one of us. Look at that gift and live out that gift. It’s not about how you see yourself in the mirror, it’s about how you see yourself when you close your eyes and you look inside.”— Masiwakhe Bulu
Masiwakhe has been working as a gold facilitator intern for a few years now, where he has the opportunity to train and mentor teenage peer educators. Not only is he using his personal story to create awareness around bullying, but he’s also encouraging young people in his sphere of influence that their physical appearance need not define them.
‘Who you are is embedded within you – deep down inside – and that’s where you have to look. God has instilled a gift within each and every one of us. Look at that gift and live out that gift. It’s not about how you see yourself in the mirror, it’s about how you see yourself when you close your eyes and you look inside.’
Find out more about gold Youth Development Agency here: https://goldyouth.org.
Stories of Hope is brought to you by the Mergon Foundation, a resource partner to ministries who expand God’s Kingdom and bring hope and restoration to communities across Africa and the Middle East.
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