help youth to escape bondage of ignorance

LAST Friday I attended a one-day Bridges of Hope workshop at Wits University. Those attending were third-year physiotherapy students, the majority of whom were young and aspiring South Africans.

LAST Friday I attended a one-day Bridges of Hope workshop at Wits University. Those attending were third-year physiotherapy students, the majority of whom were young and aspiring South Africans.

Due to family commitments, I only managed to stay for half the day. I left just before lunch.

First and foremost, I must declare that I have a liking for young people in our country.

So my expressed opinion about them and their future could be a bit biased and exaggerated but definitely hopeful. Needless to say I was greatly impressed by the fact that young South Africans generally are as aspiring and intelligent as that lively and humorous bunch was.

I was honoured to address them and I must readily admit that, perhaps to their great disappointment, I did not wish to focus on HIV-Aids.

After all, in a few more years these guys will be qualified doctors and I did not wish to preach to the converted, so to speak.

Instead I chose to inspire them by highlighting the importance of their qualification and their expertise in impoverished communities.

I praised them for their academic accomplishments and then proceeded to deliver the crucial message in my brief talk.

I humbly impressed on these disarmingly charming youngsters that their country is bleeding and is in desperate need of talented and educated people like them.

I emphasised the critical role they can play in uplifting those who are as intelligent but lack the financial resources and subsequently the opportunity to further their studies at tertiary level.

I brought it to their attention that the spirit of volunteerism cannot wait for them to qualify and be successful.

They have already gone far enough to be able to identify and mentor their peers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

My message was simple and clear: It is imperative that we bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.

Obviously the opportunity to learn at a higher level is one of the ways and means through which people can free themselves and their fellow countrymen and women from the arresting bondage of poverty, ignorance, disease and premature death.

In other words, I religiously believe that our leaders should work tirelessly and uncompromisingly to ensure that the bridge between formal learning and tertiary level is narrowed.

I have always found the university environment to be quite imposing and intimidating.

So learners from as early as Grade 10 should be encouraged to attend further lessons at universities so that by the time they get there it will be easier to adapt.

Most importantly, young people such as the ones I addressed should be their teachers, mentors and guides.

There must be a distinguishable difference between the inside of prison walls and the university premises.

As I went through the Bridges of Hope's practical training, I felt hopeful and encouraged to witness young people engaged in addressing societal ills that have the potential to derail the progress of our nation.

I felt truly blessed and privileged to have rubbed my weakening shoulders with them.

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