The South East District Youth Empowerment League (SEDYEL)
In the south east corner of Botswana over 100 youth football teams get the opportunity to take part in regular sport as part of the South East District Youth Empowerment League. But if you dig beneath the dusty, dry surface of this part of the country and it becomes clear that SEDYEL is a whole lot more than just 112 youth teams taking part in football.
SEDYEL Director Kitso Masi explains: “At SEDYEL there is a belief that engagement in sport can be a key factor in turning around individual lives and communities”.
SEDYEL’s philosophy is to use the league as a mobilizing tool for the local community. The league is used as a focal point to engage young people to volunteer in their community.
In addition to league games SEDYEL organises regular tournaments based around key themes providing opportunities to introduce educational messages to league participants. To do this SEDYEL supports its youth volunteers to gain skills and knowledge so that they have the capability to provide key educational messages. This is done using the Kicking AIDS Out approach where by this takes place alongside the sport activity.
Off the playing field SEDYEL incorporates school and community outreach programmes and a safe spaces initiative for girls and young women.
Working with Junior Schools during the guidance and counselling classes, trained peer educators equip students with relevant information about sexual reproductive health issues, life skill, leadership skills development and HIV/AIDS information. The SEDYEL drama group performs a similar role using theatre to engage with community members. Between these two programmes over 3000 community members have been reached.
The Kgatelopele safe spaces program was initiated to encourage young women in South East to participate not only in sport programs, but to access the powerful social development benefits of sport. As part of this initiative a catering business has developed to engage young women participating in SEDYEL activities. A highlight for this group was securing contracts to cater for the South East District Council staff.
But the real story is the leadership behind these initiatives. SEDYEL is a youth led, youth run organising. From Director Kitso Masi, 26, a recipient of the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Person of the World Award Recipient, to Peer Education Coordinator Boitumelo Magosi, 27, recently awarded an internship to work alongside the Kicking AIDS Out Network, through to SEDYEL’s trained Peer Leaders SEDYEL is a youth movement aiming for youth ownership.
Although the headline statistic for SEDYEL is the 112 teams active in their leagues like in many sports stories the real story lies behind the statistics and SEDYEL’s is in the name. Youth Empowerment.