Ever since I was a kid I had a dream I wanted to become a paramedic one day, or a famous actress. But I saw the different things happening in the community and I just enjoyed being part of it. I started doing a lot of thing helping my community going on hiking tours with the primary school, doing different courses, being very sporty playing cricket and netball with the youth. I found that being myself and not pretending to be someone else will get me far – Veronique Green, former VPUU Placemaker, 2016
The Placemaker Programme seeks to promote youth as positive role models in their communities. It offers possibilities for young people to upskill themselves socially and professionally, encouraging positive behaviour and healthy living. After graduating from Chrysalis Academy, Placemakers work with VPUU for 12 months. This is mostly in the fields of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Youth Afterschool Activities. The Placemaker motto is: We create vibrant and safe spaces for youth to be free and strong.
We have interviewed Placemakers who have taken this motto beyond their time at VPUU, out into their lives and communities and jobs. This is a celebration of the strong and inspiring youth who have been part of our programme, and who continue to spread the VPUU vision.
My name is Veronique Green and but everyone calls me Vera. I am a people’s person and love new challenges. I am very passionate in what I am doing – I love the outdoors and working in the community, as well as engaging with people. My manner is very soft (soft-hearted towards my people – I find it very hard to say no to those in need of help). I also love writing, acting and socialising.
I am from a small town called Villiersdorp which is nice and friendly. Ever since I was a kid I had a dream I wanted to become a paramedic one day, or a famous actress. But I saw the different things happening in the community and I just enjoyed being part of it. I started doing a lot of thing helping my community going on hiking tours with the primary school, doing different courses, being very sporty playing cricket and netball with the youth. I found that being myself and not pretending to be someone else will get me far.
My Mother is a grade 3 teacher and my father was a cleaner and has worked for SAPD social crime prevention for about 15 years. I guess there is where my love for the community comes from. I also did some volunteering work with Badisa and Kosie De Wet Primary school .
Before I become a Placemaker I worked in a pack store called Idea Fruit for 4 years and then for 2 years by Betko where I sorted fruit, packed apples, labelled fruit bags and made up boxes. Villiersdorp is in a apple growing area, so most people are employed in similar, low paid jobs. But I decided it was not for me because I could never get outdoors or do activities with the schools and youth in my community, which are my actual passions. I applied for a fieldworker position at VPUU in 2014, and then I was selected for the Placemaker programme.
I have a lot of good memories. Most especially attending youth outdoor activities and camps and being able to work in many different areas. I also had the opportunity to help a young lady with a disability who can’t walk with some exercise plans. It was amazing to be able to give my time to growing and supporting the different organisations and people in my community.
The programme helped me to see the way I work differently; as being about more than just making a living, but also making a difference. I learnt so many values and skills of leadership, communication, trust and loyalty. There were many opportunities to learn how to facilitate groups (I was part of an excellent workshop run by Proud2B ME in partnership with VPUU) and how to talk in front of the youth and the community. I also got a good understanding of how to connect with young people in a good way.
I got a job with VPUU! The co-ordinator of the programme chose me as someone who could work well with young people; and be a support person to the new Placemakers. So now I’m working as the Social Crime Prevention Youth Facilitator for the Villiersdorp area. It’s so great to stay on at VPUU, helping other young people in the programme to grow; despite the challenges that come with it.
I did find it difficult at first being in a different position but I am learning new things every moment. It’s difficult to work in a formal role, leading people who are your peers. But it’s also a place to grow. The project helps me to see the way forward in my work differently. It changes how I connect with my team, learning new things and feeling more confident in doing my work .
Each and every day you learn new thing. If you look back on what went wrong and how you can reach for success differently, that’s a good thing. It is also a test to see all the challenges that we are facing and make something out of that. So, I always makes this example: if I give you a penny and you ask me for a dollar what does it mean to you? When you reach for the small things in life you can reach the top, often doing better that you expected. It’s that thing of understanding that you are not going to follow just one road in life; it’s getting bigger and better while going forward. Change your attitude. Change your life. And reach the top.