“We call this one toothpaste – it’s what they are drinking first thing in the morning” says Duki pointing to his drawing depicting alcohol consumption in his circle of friends. “You see them drinking this to start with at home – because it is cheap and no one will see you drinking it.”
Following weeks of discussion and training with a select group of youth these, kinds of conversations are beginning to emerge. SLF has been piloting an action research and engagement process with a broad representation of youth from various locations in the Cape Flats. They include both young women and men aged 18 – 30 who reside in Delft, Mitchells Plain and Philippi, Cape Town.
“I don’t drink too much because I want to watch over my friends – because they are in danger when they drink… I used to drink and party, but I am trying to change my life.”The project aims to give young people a ‘voice’ by building on previous organisational successes in affording marginalized citizens a voice through digital stories and photographs. By using the Photo Voice method as a base, the project has generated images and debate by youth on both their risky or responsible consumption of alcohol.
“Advantages? – You speak 75% the truth when you are drunk.”
Youth are well aware of the risks of alcohol consumption: Violence, assault, ‘black outs’, rape, ‘babbalas’ hangovers, financial strain and unsociable behavior – are but a few of their depictions of the problems caused by alcohol.
Yet conversely, the benefits are also well established including a boost in confidence, the good feeling, its ability to motivate and catalyze socializing and meeting new people.
“I drink coffee and water at home b’cos I can’t drink in front of my parents.”
And so, despite the well-articulated awareness of both the risks and consequences of alcohol consumption, and regardless of limitations imposed on them, young people still have incredible enthusiasm attached to drinking and socializing.
“I drink only to be tipsy – not to be drunk. I don’t drink spirits.”
“We party at home because it’s safe… you can see from a person if they are going to cause trouble so if they gate-crash and look like trouble you can close the gate and say ‘invites only’. It is much safer with friends at home.”
Young people have shown an array of methods they use to mitigate the risks of intoxication including the combination of food and drink, limiting intake etc. What has stood out the most however was consumption in the safety of their own homes and with established and reliable contacts.
This is an ongoing process with a dedicated group of young participants. In our final stages of the process, the youth are framing their photographs in which they wish to tell their unique experiences of being young in their under resourced locations. Themes include, among others, secretive consumption, precautions for safety, frugal spending and consumption management to prevent illness. Their photo narratives will be used in a short publication as well as in an engagement exhibition event.
We aim to attract policy makers and organisations interested in youth development so as to contribute to the discourse affecting this vulnerable and incredibly valuable factor of society.
Words by: Nava Derakhshani