Usiko Stellenbosch provides the guidance and rites of passage rituals that help youth
move towards an enriched adulthood.
Usiko began operating in 2001, as citizens from Jamestown near Stellenbosch were deeply concerned about the multiple psycho-social problems of young people in the area which placed youth at severe risk to truancy, school dropout, criminal behaviour and early death. Usiko identified that the youth lacked the supportive structures that traditionally would have directed them into how to become a responsible man or women.
The organisation addresses youth challenges through the following accredited programmes:
• Crime Prevention & Diversion – a rehabilitation process that is an alternative to incarceration and includes a unique parent support programme which runs in parallel: 140 at risk to crime
beneficiaries, plus 60 parents per year
• School-based Prevention – remedial, preventive and developmental projects delivered to school going children over 18 months with the aim of keeping them in school and completing their education: 1,200 beneficiaries.
• Sustainable Livelihoods – to aid the transition into the working world through vocational skills, internships and help with accessing bursaries and further education: 150 beneficiaries per annum
The work focuses on youth aged 12 – 18 years of age, targeting children of impoverished farm workers and adolescents from townships and remote rural settlements as well as young offenders referred by the court system. Wilderness therapy forms a central feature of the programmes, as a means to explore personal issues and develop skills in leadership as well as raise awareness of, and connection to nature. This therapy has gained worldwide recognition as a best-practice model and is accredited through the Department of Social Development proving its rigour and quality.
Over a hundred volunteer community-based mentors support Usiko, and continue its
legacy as an authentic grassroots organisation providing solutions by the community for the community.
In the fourteen years of operation, Usiko has impacted the lives of 13,000 youths
directly. Within 4 months of taking part in schools based programmes, the truancy rates have been reduced by 90% (2014 figures). The rate of reoffending for the youth graduating from its crime prevention & diversion programmes has decreased dramatically from a 5% reoffending rate in 2013 to 0% re-offences in 2014. Young offenders graduating from the programme have their records cleared.