DANCING AGAINST SOCIAL ILLS
Thembisa mentor Jarrel Mathebula uses dance to guide youngsters and keep them away from social ills.
As co-founder of a group called Indigenous Dance Academy, or IDA, the 30-year-old dance instructor signed up to be a mentor in The South African Breweries 18+ Campaign because he realised he was already a mentor to the group of more than 20 youngsters in Thembisa.
The 18+ Campaign encourages young adults to ‘be the mentor you wish you had’ and to help teens make positive life choices, including staying away from alcohol.
“In my daily work of teaching dance, I am trying to make sure kids stay off the street and have fun while they are doing it, ” Jarrel said. “I have a lot of older dancers but there is one 13-year-old boy called Louis, the youngest dancer at IDA who is really talented. He is dancing with much older people and he fits in, he’s that good. I make a special effort to spend time with him after class and chat to him about life.”
Louis, who says he views Jarrel as a father figure, says he will steer clear of alcohol. “I want to be like Jarrel and Neo (IDA co-founder) and finish school and have my own house one day, just like them. Jarrel is always telling me to focus, stay out of trouble and pass my studies. I am thankful to them for how they have helped me.”
Jarrel said he believed South Africa was lacking real leadership. “I thought instead of just waiting for government, or waiting forever, let’s make a difference in our own townships. Kids from around here deal with a lot of social ‘illness’ – things like teenage pregnancy and underage drinking. I think by always making them rehearse on a Friday and Saturday, I will be playing my part in helping to keep them away from those temptations.”
As a youngster, Jarrel did not have a mentor. “I ended up not studying because I did not have a mentor to help guide my path after school.”
Today, dance means “the world” to Jarrel. “When I dance, no matter what I am going through at that time, when I get on that stage, I feel like I can conquer the world. That’s why I think IDA, and dance in general, can help. Because while we are keeping youngsters away from social ills, the payments that a lot of guys dancing here receive means they are breadwinners at home.”
“You don’t need a qualification to dance; you just need talent and motivation to work at it. And I think that is what makes it cool.”
South Africans can be part of the campaign and make a difference to someone else’s life by pledging to be a mentor at www.sab.co.za/alcohol-issues/
To watch Jarrel’s video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtA42wLTfak