On the right side of the track

Vionaver Booysen, 22, grew up in Hanover Park in the Cape Flats, an area inhabited by residents who have been removed from District Six. Declared a ‘whites only’ area in 1966, black people were forced to leave their homes in District 6 and take up shelter in cramped conditions in the Cape Flats.

Life in Hanover is tough and education and employment opportunities are thin on the ground; according to the 2011 census, young people aged 15-24 make up almost 20% of the population, yet less than a third of people aged 20 or older have achieved a high school qualification. Furthermore, 36% of the labour force (aged 15 to 64) is unemployed.

Creating a better community

For Vionaver, living in Hanover has presented many challenges. Her mother, a low-paid factory worked, was not able to pay for Vionaver to stay in school. Since her father left, Vionaver’s mother has struggled to provide for her daughter and for Vionaver’s brother, whom sadly has turned to drugs.

Despite all of this, Vionaver was determined to create a better future for herself and for her community. Through the Award, Vionaver has taken to transforming her community, helping to provide better and safer living conditions for its residents. Her work with the project Community Action towards A Safer Environment (CASE) started when she joined the Award but she has continued to take part, now as an Assistant Youth Coordinator.

In the midst of adversity

“I am extremely proud of Vionaver and the impact she is making to many young people’s lives in Cape Town, and especially those in communities that do not have many positive role models,” says Errol Valentine, Managing Director, CASE.

“Given her own circumstances, she has shown how one can advance in life in the midst of adversity and challenges.”

Vionaver has achieved her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and continues to play an active role with The President’s Award For Youth Empowerment (the Award in South Africa). As well as Award activities, she has attended the 2013 opening of South Africa Parliament – Civil Guards of Honour and represented The President’s Award on a national basis. 

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