Written & Contributed by Prachi Murarka
When the word Soweto pops up in the popular consciousness, two things that are seemingly extreme can come to mind. Soweto is the place where students led protests against the Apartheid South African government in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A hub of revolutionary activity, it is also one of the places with the least amount of educational opportunities and support for its youth.
Darryl Arnold Pitt began to dream the idea of We Believe in 1981. Growing up in El Dorado Park (in the township of Soweto near Johannesburg), he had the privilege of being educated outside of his community and being exposed to opportunities unavailable to his peers. His consciousness grew, and he developed a deep discipline and respect for his work. He recognized that as his opportunities for development grew, the distance between him and his peers exponentially increased. Darryl received the skills and tools to make the best use of the opportunities presented to him, and his peers did not. Darryl increased his capacity to work through life’s challenges, and most of his peers could not.
As he researched what he could do to assist the children and youth of the community and help close the gaps between people from his community and more empowered communities, Darryl began to formulate a youth centre concept to empower children and youth in El Dorado Park. I met him during this time.
During my visit to Johannesburg, Darryl took me to an arts program he created and volunteered at every weekend. The elementary school kids loved him, and his energy was contagious. As he spoke and began to create this dream, the qualities of a true practitioner came out: his immense love for people, his desire to contribute something of meaning in the world, and the sparkling energy he brought to every interaction.
Now, three years after registering We Believe in El Dorado Park and We Believe in Africa, Darryl has launched the project Legacy. Looking at systematic youth empowerment, We Believe partnered with a local elementary school in the area to pilot a program that would engage the school’s alumni to invest in school infrastructure upgrades, staff development, and student development. Using a service sector model, Legacy encourages citizens to become active participants and stakeholders in improving the educational opportunities for current and future generations.
At the verge of this new program, Darryl writes:
“Looking back at this specific journey it is 10 years to the year that it started, 10 years of questioning, personal struggle, growth, changing, and challenges. Ten years of refusing to give up.
“We now stand at the threshold of this dream, a dream that includes everyone, which will develop and empower everyone. If you are fearful of this, we asking you to live in possibility with us as there is no fear in love. The past will no longer define our future, we will create our own future together with a dream for all.”
Learn more about We Believe and Darryl Arnold Pitt