My name is Charles Mkhabele and I am 16 years old and have been a scout and part of Keep The Dream196 for 5 years. Scouts has really changed my life as I come from a poor background many of the boys my age in the community are not great role models, so KTD196 and my family have helped me to see there is another way to live.
I live with my mother, father, older sister and my two brothers. I was born in Johannesburg but the family then moved to Shiluvane just before my little brothers were born. I really liked living in Shiluvane as I met most of my friends in that village. I attended Shiluvane primary school for 7 years and then began attending scouts in grade 8 of my high school, Khataza.
My family have now moved to Burgersdorp and I am now in grade 10 of high school. This was difficult for me as I had to leave my friends behind and because my new village is about 8km walk away but I’m thankful that I can still see them in school and at scouts. There are around five people in my class that also attend scouts with me. Some of the people in our classes make fun of us for being in scouts and for choosing to live by the scout rules. Calling us fools for not playing around, having girlfriends and smoking with them on weekends. As scouts we have made the decision to lead a different life, living by the scout laws.
I personally think that it is a good thing that as a scout we are not allowed to smoke or do drugs because I know how harmful it is for our bodies. It is difficult though when others are drinking etc. because of the peer pressure. So many people in my school and community are doing these things, even taking drugs from the age of 12, it seems like these things are normal and good fun. I know that they affect people differently and can cause you to do wrong things or even commit crimes so I know its not something I want to do.
Scouts has given me a good direction that doing these sorts of things isn’t right and that I can now be more focused on my future and my life after school. Scouts has also given me many different types of skills for example learning first aid. Meaning that even if I don’t do that well in school I will still have skills that can help me if I wanted to become a paramedic. Scouts helped me to think more about my career, it would be my dream to come a pilot.
I really love attending the scout camps and I always have so much fun. At home I have many responsibilities and jobs to carry out, as I am a scout I respect my parents because they have supported me and encouraged me to join scouts. I want my younger brothers to also join scouts because I think it will also help them to learn these unique skills and have fun. At the moment in scouts we are attending a ‘Boys2Men’ program teaching us what it truly means to be a man, building on the principles of respect that scouts have taught. I already know that a man must respect not only other men but also women. Some boys from my community go through ’Engomni’ a tradition in our culture where boys are taken to mountain school for a month and taught about what it means to be a man. When they come back they are very different people, they are not true men.
In KTD196 I am now a leader and a role model to the younger children. It makes me feel proud of who I am today.