The non-profit organisation, Shout-It-Now, says on Youth Day South Africans are reminded of the words of former President Nelson Mandela, who in June 1995 said that “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth.”
The organisation, in a statement, said it was inspired by Madiba’s words and therefore sought to offer free, mobile, youth-friendly medical and behavioural HIV prevention, gender-based violence (GBV), and sexual and reproductive health services (SRH), particularly to young girls and women in the age group 15-24, in communities in Gauteng and the North West.
Dr Albert Machinda, Chief Operating Officer at Shout-It-Now, observes that, “If we are to build South Africa envisaged by former President Mandela, we have to begin paying more attention to the physical and psycho-social needs of our youth, and particularly young girls and women in the age group 15-24, who remain the most vulnerable because of unequal cultural, social and economic status.
“Young girls and women also continue to bear the brunt of many issues including HIV, gender-based violence, poverty and inequality. As we work with them in providing HIV, GBV and sexual and reproductive health services, we often also see, amongst others, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teenage pregnancies. These can have long term physical, emotional and psychological consequences. In addition, depending on the communities in which these occur, young girls and women may be subjected to stigmatisation, isolation and sometimes even ostracisation”, said Machinda.
He added; “Almost four decades into the HIV/AIDS pandemic, adolescent girls and young women continue to account for almost a quarter of all new HIV infections in South Africa. They are also often subjected to gender-based violence.
Shout-It-Now, therefore, prioritises this demographic group because we believe it is with them that we can make the most difference. If we can assist young girls and women with the appropriate support to navigate harmful social conditions, they can have a healthier and happier life path.
“We strive to make our services accessible to those who need it in a range of ways. In addition to all of our services being free of charge, we recruit our staff from local communities in which we work, to make sure that we can help those most affected in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way. .”
“We bring our services to young people through our mobile vehicles at various locations and times. We also want to maintain the dignity of those who seek our help. This means we can come to you when you need us! We can be contacted through our dedicated WhatsApp number +27 10 020 6021, website https://shoutitnow.org/ or the Connect Hub on +27 10 020 6021.”
Machinda said in order for the future generations to be able to make the vision of Nelson Mandela a reality, people needed to dislodge the culture of fear, vulnerability and powerlessness in young girls and women. “Let us make this pledge this Youth Month and let this commitment guide our actions to build a world where young girls and women can be equal co-creators of development and prosperity for all,” added Machinda.
The organisation serves the Ekurhuleni and Tshwane municipalities in Gauteng and Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Bojanala and Ngaka Modiri Molema districts in North West.