My name is Nhlanhla Prayer Khoza, I am a 25 years of age male from Mavele village just outside Tzaneen. It even scares me to say 25 years of age because just a few years ago I was a young scout cared for by Keep The Dream196 in many ways.
When I was born there was great jubilee at home over my arrival and people gave me names including "Prayer.” Little did I know that this second name would define most of my life experiences. Before and when I became a scout I was a very shy little boy who could not even tell you if you were standing on my toes, funny as this may sound. It affected me in a bad way. People would bully me at school knowing that I would just bottle it in and not say anything about it.
When I was introduced to scouts by mom Maria Mongwe (a Home Based Care Volunteer) in 2004, it was a foreign concept but sounded interesting so together with some of my friends and neighbours we joined scouts with an intention to just see what it was all about. As you can guess we loved it. Mainly because we got to learn new information at every gathering, we got to interact with other people that were our peers. The fact that these were our peers helped us to see life in a positive view and to have a sense of hope, this is what KTD196 did for us, they brought us hope and possibilities.
As I said, I was a very shy person, I started to be more open to other people and learnt how to communicate. I was no longer shy and started standing up for myself in a respectful manner. I became involved with the Student School Governance Committee and even stood before President Kgalema Mothlante and thousands of people to recite a poem I had written when he came to my village to open a new school. Such were the changes in me.
I realised that even at school I had started to be ahead in that I would know some educational information before the teachers could teach it, giving me good standing. Being a scout who comes from a rural and cultural area I also got to talk about sensitive issues that I could never talk about at home. The scouts meetings and camps helped me to speak about things like sexual intercourse, STDs, child abuse, male and female changes and how to handle them, how to choose careers paths and the like. Being a scout has also shone a light in terms of a career path and how to follow your career.
A huge change was noticeable upon all the people that were scouts, behaviour changed drastically, they started to behave in a good way and remained positive and focused. The positivity that being a scout brought to our lives was also noticeable in the fact that we all passed matric well and went on to pursue our careers, I went on to complete a Bachelor of Computer Sciences, others went on to study other noble careers like Bachelor of Sciences, Law and the like.
I have made so many friends that have helped me and are still helping me with different things of life. The fact that most of them are working means that I have friends in most of the career paths that I can think of. Growing up as a scout has opened many doors for me, it has created a network of friends, information and knowledge that always is handy in my day to day living. I have become a disciplined young man through the activities and knowledge that became part of my life.
As I grew up I came to the realisation that I am also called to be a minister of the WORD of God. This being one of the hardest tasks that any young man can come across, though very fulfilling and life giving. The fact that I had been a facilitator and a peer educator as a scout gave me a boost in terms of people skills and how to talk to people or address them. I now can stand in front of a vast number of people and address them. I am now able to conduct counselling for people that need it. I believe with every atom of my being that Keep The Dream196 is the reason why I have overcome my issues as a child and am able to be the man God destined me to be. Keep The Dream196 has been an angel that God sent into my life to come and mould me to be what HE wants me to be, even though the journey continues the impact of Scouts upon my life has been unexplainable.
To all the people that have grown up as scouts I would like to say, find a way to give back to KTD196 where you can, with your time, your knowledge, your professional information and the like. Just remember that blessed is the hand that giveth than the one that receiveth.