Members of the Sauerstown, Richmond and Hide-out communities have appealed to well-wishers to assist them with resources to set up income-generating projects to alleviate poverty and idleness among youth.

These sentiments were made at a learning site visit organized by the Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum (ECLF) for one of their partners from Bread for the World. Members who participated in the visit are beneficiaries of ECLF’s trainings on conflict resolution and peace-building.

Speaking at the event Siphathisiwe Gatsi, a beneficiary of the training who is now chairperson of the Sauerstown Youth Club, expressed gratitude for the stability brought about by the trainings carried out by ECLF but said that the time has now come to complement the stability with livelihoods assistance.

“We learnt a lot from the training that we had and we have seen a lot of stability with regards to peace and community cohesion since then. Our major challenge now however, is the issue of livelihoods which also has a bearing on peace in the community. Despite the marked improvement in peace, some disturbances still occur. There are still some isolated cases of theft, child abuse and rape which are swept under the carpet,” said Gatsi.

Gatsi added that her youth group was operating without funding and that the major problem the come across is poverty that has the potential to upset the peace and conflict in the community.

“We want people to co-exist and live in peace but how does one address peace issues with an empty stomach? It is difficult even for our youth group because we can only do what we can without resources or from what little we can contribute from our own pockets. We wish ECLF could be empowered with funds to assist youth with their livelihood challenges,” added Gatsi.

Sandra Dube-Gumbo, a development worker who works with orphans and HIV-positive children and youth, testified to the effect that the conflict resolution training had transformed he youth and outlined the challenges that her organization is facing in enabling her youth to access treatment.

“We work with children and youth in Sauerstown, many of whom are either orphans or HIV-positive. Some were lucky enough to participate in ECLF trainings and we have seen marked improvement in their behaviour and self-esteem. We are, however, still facing challenges like the inability of our youth to travel to Hospitals like Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) to collect their Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART). We are also faced with resource constraints like feeding our youth during trainings on vocations like beadwork,” said Dube-Gumbo.

Another home-based care practitioner who live in Hide-out, appealed for livelihoods assistance to assist youth with income-generating projects as the bulk of them are idle and have no income.

“I work and live here at Hide-out and work with many people who have been trained in peace-building by ECLF. Many of the people we work with are blind and cannot fend for their children and their grandchildren. There are some who are disabled and who are struggling without any income or livelihood. We would like to assist youth in income-generating projects like brick moulding and keeping poultry as most of them are idle and spend the day drinking at the bottle store,” said Mrs Magwa.