The 16th of June is Youth Day in South Africa; commemorating the anniversary of the Soweto Uprising. June 16th 1976 was the first day of what came to be called the Soweto Uprising – when students stood up against a discriminatory and oppressive education system. While it began in Soweto, it soon spread around the country and continued until the end of that year. It is estimated that 20,000 students took part in the protests, which were met with fierce police brutality. The number of protesters killed by police is usually given as 176, but estimates of up to 700 have been made.
For over a century AFS has existed with one defining goal – creating a better world, driven by peace and the understanding of others. AFS works to develop an inclusive community of global citizens determined to build bridges between cultures. The AFS approach to active citizenship is about participating in civil society, community and/or political life, practising mutual respect and non-violence and in accordance with the values of human rights, democracy and intercultural understanding.
As a youth-focused organisation, AFS ISA encourages young people to take charge of their lives and use opportunities available to them. We create opportunities for young people to learn, gain vital skills and to have the confidence necessary to become productive and successful adults. Through cultural exchanges, we aim to enhance young people’s awareness, belief in self-efficacy and to be globally competent. AFS provides international programmes that empower the youth on organisational, economic, social, cultural diversity, understanding of international issues, proficiency in a foreign language, and the skills necessary to function in a globally competent world.
AFS ISA affords chances to young people from previously disadvantaged communities that would otherwise not get an opportunity to go on an exchange programme due to the area where they come from, or the inability to afford such opportunities. We offer young people the chance to study, volunteer and become interns abroad.
We believe that cultural and educational background, race, ethnicity, and gender do not define an individual and should not limit them to what they want to achieve.
As we remember those – especially the youth – who rose up to fight for an end to discrimination, and laid the foundations upon which a democratic South Africa could be built, we encourage the youth of today to become involved in changing their communities and their country for the better.
“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, those who care for and protect our people.” President Nelson Mandela
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