History of the Bokamoso Youth Centre
The Bokamoso Youth Program was founded in 1999 by white South Africans Steven and Marion Carpenter. A doctor and nurse, they had lived and worked in the community for years, creating programs in nutrition, health care, rape crisis and employment.
When the Carpenters were held up at gunpoint by a group of young people—young people they knew, whose families they had worked with—the Carpenters were compelled to address the desperate needs of youth at risk in Winterveldt. They knew there was nowhere for young people to go in Winterveldt and few productive ways to spend their time. Thus was the Bokamoso Youth Center born.
Until recently, Bokamoso was funded by the Anglican church of South Africa but the overwhelming social needs of the country brought an end to that support. The program now relies on donations.
The cost of this remarkable program is surpringly low. The center’s annual budget is about $40,000, which includes the salaries of three full-time employees and five part-timers. A year’s fees for community or technical college are only $1,500.
In 2008, some $143,000 in pledges and donations at the Bokamoso Dream Breakfast paid not only for program costs through the year but provided 36 full scholarships for the young people to attend college, as well as incidental costs for scholarship recipients who cannot afford books, supplies and some of the most basic life needs.
What will the future bring? Together, we hold the key.