Unsung Heroes in Our Communities Silently Supporting the Youth in Need

16 Days for Youth Aims to Highlight the Plight of Those Making a Difference

Sport not only offers an equal playing field for the youth, but is an activity that every family has in common, on and off the field. Yesterday, a local football tournament hosted at Rylands FA at the Johnson Road Sports Complex, was an opportunity to highlight the plight of the vulnerable youth from the area and beyond.

As part of Heart FM’s annual 16 Days for Youthinitiative, the station teamed up with local community leader, Aslam Kassiem, who has for years been trying to single-handedly assist those in need, particularly the children from his community. Aslam has been given small premises to work out of, at the Johnson Road Sports Complex; a small kitchen and holding area from which he runs a soup kitchen. The kitchen itself is very run down and the facilities are lacking the basics such as fridges, a stove, working surface, to name a few. However, despite these challenges, Aslam and his group of volunteers make do, and do what they can to feed communities at least once a month.

Since Aslam is just one individual trying to make a difference, he relies heavily on his personal network of friends, family and associates, who all lend a hand when they can by donating food, sponsoring school stationery, donating cash, buying sports gear, to name a few.

This, Day 8 of the 16-day campaign, saw listeners, once again, come out in support of this initiative and pitched up to volunteer and to donate groceries. One such group was the Athlone A’s, a local baseball club that heard about this project. They came out in full force to bring groceries for the soup kitchen.

One of the biggest challenges, is transporting the cooked meals into the communities after being prepared at the club.  Heart FM heard his plea and bought a trailer for them to transport the meals from now on.

Tannie Magda from Paarl, a great success story to come out of the 2016 initiatve showed her support on the day. Magda and her team cooked up a storm from the parking lot, and prepared enough food with the aim of feeding over 2000 impoverished children on the day.

Now in its fourth year, 16 Days for Youthlaunched in 2016 by local radio station Heart FM. The aim of the initiative is to share the stories of ordinary people making an extraordinary difference in the lives of the youth in their respective communities. Each year the station identifies a number of these [projects] throughout the Western Cape that offer support in different ways; from feeding schemes to day care facilities, safehouses, sports and recreation. What they all have in common is the fact that they offer not only a haven for the youth in the area, but create opportunities to make a sustainable difference in their lives, either through education, coaching, feeding or empowerment projects.

The entire station shuts down from 01 – 16 June and broadcasts every day from 6am to 6pm from each location. While the station aims to fill these gaps itself over the 16 days, it also offers a platform for listeners to support these initiatives, either in their private or corporate capacities through either cash donations or volunteering their time for building, painting, feeding and entertaining the youth.

The project is at the halfway mark and has made a significant difference to 8 organisations this week, with 8 more to go. The team have travelled to locations as far as Elim, Villierdorp and Caledon to help those in need and hit the road once again tomorrow (Monday, 10 June) for Gouda and Porterville. The initiative culminates back in the Cape Metropole at the end of the week and finishes on the 16thof June inPhilippi where the team will join Play Sport for Life, a non-profit organization which aims to improve the lives and well-being of our disadvantaged communities by providing athletic opportunities and using sports as a vehicle for a healthier lifestyle.

For more information about the initiative and the organisations involved in this year’s initiative, go to http://16daysforyouth.com/

Follow the journey on social media @heart104.9fm  or @16DaysForYouth