Global Reach: Past Grantees

REALISTIC (Rebuilding and Life Skills Training Center)


Youth age 0-35 (the definition of Youth in South Africa) make up 62% of the population of the Western Cape with those 15-24 constituting 20%. Approximately one in three are born into single-parent families where they will never know or have little contact with their biological father. 28% of young people have been born into poverty – where the monthly per capita income for the household is R 522 ($33). 14% of young people live in households where all or most of the adults are and have been chronically unemployed; a situation which naturalises unemployment and discourages young people from making serious attempts to find employment, gain valuable skills or engage in entrepreneurial efforts. Provincial levels of youth crime and violence are the highest in the country with “gangsterism” a feature of most working class and poor communities. HIV/AIDS remains a very significant threat for young people, as is drug and alcohol abuse. The South African Government’s 2012 Youth Health Risk Survey indicates that 10% of them already being in a state of drunkenness on a weekly basis; and that 25% of them will be lifetime cannabis users with around 10% already using it on a regular basis.


REALISTIC (Rebuilding And Life Skills Training Centre) is a community-based organization established in 2004 by Solomon Mandikane, a former employee of the South African Department of Correctional Services, who realized that many former inmates would re-offend shortly after their release because they were unable to re-integrate into their families or communities. Realistic operates out of a small office in Guguletho and offers ex-prisoners and at-risk youth an intervention program aimed at preventing re-offending and building resilience. In order to become Realists, youth enter a six-month program which combines therapeutic activities with life skills training, gender and HIV/AIDS awareness, vocational training and career counseling. At the program’s end, participants emerge with a concrete plan for the next few months and years, repaired relationships with their families, and placement at a job, vocational training provider, or educational institution. Realistic runs a prevention program at local schools using Realists to facilitate sessions on substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and positive lives. Realistic remains one of the very few community-based organizations providing this kind of service in Western Cape and its work has attracted the attention of international academic institutions (e.g. the University of Konstanz in Germany with which they partner to develop a trauma intervention component to the program aimed at youth who have experienced very high levels of violence).

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 5th grant to REALISTIC will contribute to the organization’s largest program supporting 70 marginalized young women and men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol and who may be in trouble with the law to strengthen their resilience, develop their vocational skills and re-build social capital.

Where is REALISTIC (Rebuilding and Life Skills Training Center)?

Primary Location: Cape Town

Funded Since: 2014

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