WATCH|How kids have a potential, you just have to believe in them
No one deserves to be written off. Helene Smit swears by this belief. While some may dismiss children on the street, Smit realised that those in her hometown of Prince Albert had nowhere else to turn to.
“Many of the kids have faced things like poverty, social dysfunction, and rejection from the community,” she says.
For these reasons, they’d dropped out of the school system and had little chance of returning. Until Smit stepped in.
In 2017, she began the Prince Albert Skills School with 13 boys from the street. Here, students are taught welding, gardening, cooking, woodwork, building, and plumbing among others.
“Anyone can learn when they feel safe enough,” Smit says. Her previous work in psychology and education influences her holistic approach to the children’s growth.
“We aim to develop their skills by supporting them psychologically and teaching them technical skills,” Smit says. But there are no quick fixes when trying to make a lasting difference.
“This can be an emotional process because we’re working with people who’ve been traumatised and hurt,” she says. “It takes time to get that trauma out of their system.”
But Smit is in it for the long haul. She’s not just giving the youth a means of earning an income, but emotionally preparing them for a life off the streets.
Even in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances, Smit has confidence in these children. “I believe in the potential of human beings,” she says.