My name is Belinda and I am 19 years old. I resided at Girls and Boys Town’s centre in Kagiso, Gauteng, from January 2014 to December 2015.
My family decided that I should go to a youth care centre like this because I used to be a rebellious kid, full of anger, I never listened to anyone. Seeing my mom being a drunkard frustrated me, and my father was there but in reality, absent and this made things worse. My grandmother heard about Girls and Boys Town (GBT) and decided I should go there. She just couldn’t cope anymore.
GBT assisted me in so many ways. In addition to being safe, having adequate nutrition, attending school regularly and so on, I developed valuable life-skills which I continue to use – including how to ask for help, accept ‘no’ for an answer, accept consequences and criticism. I made a lot of friends and got along with many peers because I was the first girl to become a leader at GBT. Other girls liked me because I was fair and listened to their needs. I came back home when I got to Grade 11. I was so excited because to me, I was a changed person. I learned to respect my elders and myself and I was able to live the life I was destined for.
I am currently studying towards a diploma in Business Administration with specialisation in economics at Richfield Graduate Institution of Technology. I enjoy it despite the heavy reading and writing. I am now in my second year, looking forward to graduating in 2020. Varsity is challenging, especially when you do not know what you want in life. I’m glad of my childhood experiences – now I am focused and know what I want in life. I don’t find anything difficult with school, meeting my responsibilities with focus and determination. My family inspires me. With their support and belief, I know I won’t disappoint them.
I would like to say to the youth who need external care: I know it is not easy to leave your family and friends and go to a completely strange place but remember that you are doing it for you and your future. Always put yourself first, go and better your life. To those who are leaving a care centre soon, always remember what you have been taught. Skills that you acquire at Girls and Boys Town or a similar youth-care institution are actually spears to sharpen your future. Life is not as easy as it might seem when you’re at GBT. It is up to each individual to take a stand for their lives. So, if you are used to that nice life that GBT provides, then work hard to start your own. It’s a beautiful journey – don’t be afraid to embrace it.