“Parents neglect their children, but most importantly, they just do not understand mental illness.” Luthando Lingela, founder of the organisation Pioneers of Hope, said, having realised that he had suffered from depression, he became aware that it was a problem many people struggled with, especially young adults.
Pioneers of Hope is a non-profit organisation with the aim of educating people about mental illnesses, from depression and anxiety to stress.
Last week they were at Nkwanca High School to explain this and run classes for pupils.
Lingela said mental illnesses were common, but people did not know or understand them. At Nkwanca he said many pupils had opened up about personal challenges that were affecting them at home.
“One learner told me he had resorted to bullying as a means to cope. He did not have a relationship with his father who only supported him financially. The feelings of being unloved had driven him to not wanting to see anyone happy around him,” he said.
“Our organisation currently has three social workers, but if we are unable to assist a person we try and refer them to the appropriate place,” said Lingela.
HOD of Life Orientation at Nkwanca, Noni Madlanga, said the school had been excited about the initiative. “They deal with problems that our pupils are struggling with. We know of students who are depressed because of problems at home,” she said.
She went on to say that Nkwanca hoped Pioneers of Hope would continue going to the school because mental sickness often affected pupils’ academic life.
Lingela said although they had started with activations at schools, later they wanted to conduct workshops for teachers. “We also want to go out into the broader community to create support groups for everyone suffering from mental illness,” he said.
Pioneers of Hope plans to also create activities that will get people involved and connected with different social groups. “We plan to go hiking later in the year. We noticed that young people are not involved in cultural activities such as sports and arts,” said Lingela.
He also said Pioneers of Hope will host a gala dinner in September to invite different stakeholders in Komani to come on board the project. They want to reach out to areas such as Ezibeleni and Ndlovukazi.
Recently Pioneers of Hope assisted pupils from Nkwanca who did not have matric dance dresses and they plan to help five others write their learners’ tests for drivers’ licences. To assist Pioneers of Hope contact 083-973 8390 or visit Facebook ‘PIONEERS OF HOPE #LNL’ and Instagram, ‘Conquer with us’.