Youth on the world’s youngest continent have something to say during the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis:

“Don’t just talk at us, talk with us and listen to what we need.”

A campaign to reach 3 million young people in the first three weeks of South Africa’s lockdown showed us how much you can learn when you listen to the voices of young people and how important it is to make sure that they have accurate information to keep themselves safe and informed.

What did we hear? Young people are being flooded with fake news and misinformation. Early in the lockdown, the campaign called out in real-time a growing trend of youth reporting that they were afraid to get tested by community health workers because of misinformation falsely alleging that testing kits were infected with Covid-19. The combined effort of more than 200 partners participating in the campaign helped push back with accurate information and trusted content.

They want to know who is recovering, not just who is dying. We heard young people ask about who is recovering, and if it was people “like us”.

They wanted to know that medical resources to support recoveries were available for all. They tuned in to hear the story of 27-year-old Ncebakazi Willie, a young woman from the Eastern Cape who recovered from Covid-19 after being infected with the virus while working on an international cruise ship.

She was anxious and worried, but after a period of self-isolation she recovered and has now tested negative. She is hopeful for the future and reassured other young South Africans.

Young people want stories, not just information. Although they are responding to statistics about the virus, they also want to hear stories to help them make sense of what is going on. A comic series and radio programme called Bona, Corona! has been sharing the adventures of Tshepo as he navigates his way through the pandemic.

They need help to stay busy and employable. Young people have lost jobs and income. They can’t hustle to earn at the moment, and are asking for help to keep themselves busy and to be ready for any opportunities that may be available after the lockdown eases.

What they say they need is access to more affordable data so that they can be online for longer to access information and skills.

Our youth have the same needs as other South Africans. Young people are not immune to the mental health challenges caused by this pandemic and are asking for more resources. Some are also struggling to find food and are not sure how to wash their hands in households without running water. Despite all of this, they amaze us with solutions – giving each other tips and hints on how to manage in these difficult circumstances.

Even though we reached millions of youth in the first three weeks of the lockdown, our work is far from done. This campaign will continue to use social media, WhatsApp, SMS, radio and other channels to provide a data-free platform for young people to tell us what they need. We will continue to lift up youth voices of resilience and recovery, to provide them with tips for how to build employability skills from home during the lockdown, and to equip them to become fact checkers and “fake news fighters” so that they protect themselves and model the healthy behaviours needed of us all to fight Covid-19. We will need our young people to help lead us out of this crisis.

_____

This article was written by Maryana Iskander, CEO of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator.

The article was originally published on:

  1. The City Press website on 8 May 2020. Access the article at https://city-press.news24.com/Voices/young-people-are-telling-us-what-they-need-we-have-to-listen-20200507.
  2. Fin24 website on 10 May 2020. Access the article at https://www.fin24.com/Opinion/opinion-sa-youth-were-asked-what-they-needed-during-the-pandemic-heres-what-they-said-20200510.
  3. Daily Sun website on 10 May 2020. Access the article at https://www.dailysun.co.za/News/sa-youth-were-asked-what-they-needed-during-the-pandemic-20200510.
  4. Listen to the interview on 702 between Azania Mosaka and Kuben Nair, Chief Brand Officer at Harambee, on ‘What the South African Youth needs during the Covid – 19 pandemic’. Recorded live on 13 May 2020. Podcast here: https://omny.fm/shows/the-best-of-azania-mosaka/what-the-south-african-youth-needs-during-the-covi
  5. Listen to the interview on Cape Talk with Tammy Chetty, Chief Operating Officer of Harambee Academy. Recorded live on 13 May 2020. Podcast here: http://fusion.ornico.co.za/Broadcast/2020/05/13/2020_05_13_CAPE_TALK_HARAMBEE_YOUTH_EMPLOYMENT_ACCELERATOR_04H49.MP3
  6. Listen to the interview on SAFM with Lebo Nke, Chief Culture Officer and Partnerships Executive. Recorded live on 12 May 2020. Podcast here: http://fusion.ornico.co.za/Broadcast/2020/05/12/2020_05_12_SAFM_HARAMBEE_YOUTH_EMPLOYMENT_ACCELERATOR_14H39.MP3

Other Interesting Articles

Harambee in the News

The fight for access – digital and data light ways to connect those who are hard to reach

27 Jul 2020

At Harambee we are committed to keeping you safe, smart and kind. We’re producing a monthly digest of the most insightful articles on youth employment we’re reading, and have focused on the pieces we found to be most relevant and actionable. Time is scarce, so we’ve summarised the articles for you and shared our key takeaways.


Read More >

 

Harambee in the News

‘Generation Unlimited’ expands digital learning and work skills opportunities for young people in South Africa

15 Jul 2020

UNICEF, UNDP, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Future Africa at University of Pretoria, SuperSport Let’s Play, Afrika Tikkun join forces with young people to reimagine a better future post COVID-19.


Read More >

 

Harambee in the News

The Future of Work: 5 Lessons Ring True As Harambee Enters its 10th year

13 Jul 2020

Accelerated by a global health pandemic, the “future of work” has arrived unannounced and before many were ready. To the paralysis of fear, these lessons offer the balm of action backed by evidence.


Read More >