South African Organizer Forges Connections for Youth in two Worlds… Through the Bedford “Y”

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Global Connections: Sindisa & a student he counsels, Justin White, at the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA. Photo: Valon Beasley

Sindisa Joshua Mrulekana’s intentions to fulfill an assignment for a YMCA program have grown into a major celebratory event that connects two continents through the portal of the YMCA.

The Bedford Y’s second annual South Africa Festival takes place this Saturday, August 25th at the Y headquarters, 1121 Bedford Avenue, 3:00pm-7:00pm.   And excitement around the event — which benefits YMCA youth programs in Africa – is growing.

The festival promises something for everyone and for every age, including prizes, food, fashion, jewelry, crafts, entertainment, auctions and more.   The entertainment ranges from South African dances by Bedford Y teens to drumming to performances by native South African artists.

Lebogana Mokwena, a member of the General Consulate, will address the crowd on the cultural significance of the event, and provide an overview on what is happening in South Africa today.

So as the architect of Saturday’s festival, Sindisa, a counselor of teens at the Bedford Y,  is more than a “party host.” He is considered a strategist and gifted organizer.

Through a partnership with the International YMCA and the Global Teens Program, young men like Sindisa are brought from South Africa or sent to South Africa from New York to learn how to change communities and children’s lives.

Last year, Sindisa participated in the International Camp Counselling program.  Among other tasks, Sindisa was assigned to launching and maintaining a youth leadership program for teens in his native land. Part of Sindisa’s learning experience also was focused on raising capital for the Capetown Y.

He thought of making his fundraiser a carnival.  The first annual event occurred a year ago, and more than 100 people showed up.  With this year’s second event, Sindisa and his team at the Y may be on the road to making Brooklyn history: the South Africa Festival annual end-of-summer event, here in Central Brooklyn,  may join the ranks of Dance Africa and the International African Arts Festival, in time.

Sindisa quickly points out the integral differences between the YMCAs in New York and the YMCA in Capetown. “In America, the Y is membership-based, with fees, pay and facilities; in South Africa, the Y is volunteer-based; people are dealing with socio-economic challenges, and making change in their communities.”

“Part of what the fund will do,” Sindisa told us, “ is get South African YMCA youth the supplies and programming for high school students at risk. The programs will empower young people for life, leadership and service” — which is the core objective of YMCAs in Brooklyn and throughout the world.  And cause for celebration.

Tee-shirts are $15.   Food will be sold. Among the Brooklyn-based festival sponsors are Bombay Heights, Peaches, Rowe’s, and Madiba restaurants.
The YMCAs of New York work in partnership; the Greenpoint YMCA is sponsoring Sindisa’s stay, while the “Bed-Stuy Y” is employing him.  Sindisa’s target goal is $3000. For more info: sjoshua.mru@gmail.com, 917-843-4250,
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