“a Better Tomorrow”

Uzair Rossier Bonteheweul High School Student

Good afternoon esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen and fellow Primary and High School Peace Messengers, my name is Uzair Rossier and I am a Grade 11 student at Bonteheuwel High School, a school that serves the community of Bonteheuwel – a suburb north of Cape Town.

Bonteheuwel, or Bonties as we sometimes lovingly refer to our community, is the place I call home, but also the place that is constantly plagued by violence. There are almost daily shootings, Domestic Violence or general gang fights happening, so much that very few people feel completely safe at any time of the day.

As I observe what is happening around me, and even within my own school amongst my peers, I must say that I long for the day when there will be peace and we can all live together in harmony with one another. The theme of our Youth Day Commemoration today, is that which I think we all want and should work for, especially as it talks about “a Better Tomorrow”

When I participated in the Peace Education workshops offered by HWPL I realized that this peaceful coexistence and harmony is not just a dream, but something that can be a reality, in other words a better tomorrow is possible. The only thing is that we need to work for it and not just expect it to happen by itself.

I have experienced a lot in my community, if I may mention this one incident, where one of my peers from the peace education workshop was caught by a stray bullet during a gang shooting. Currently in South Africa, we have more deaths in our country than the deaths in the Russia-Ukraine war.  I don’t want to see this continuing and have my friends and family suffer under these threats in the future, that is why I really appreciate having parents who have taught me how to respect others and also a school that offers peace education.

One of my favourite lessons, from amongst the 12 HWPL Peace Education lessons, was the one that showed us how nature lives in harmony even though there is so much diversity. We were reminded that it is not our differences that divide us, but the fact that we are unable to accept those differences and respect one another.  For me, peace starts at home, and for that I am grateful to my parents, but we also need to learn about how to spread peace and live in peace when we go to school. Through HWPL Peace Education, I learnt about my worth and the worth of other people too. Since I learnt about peace education my thoughts have changed a lot about people, places, things and what is happening in my surroundings. I have become more aware, and I also want to be part of making a positive change.

I am hoping to be a peace messenger and one day – to hold peace talks and run workshops to contribute to my community and inspire young people to make good choices and live in harmony with others.

To me it is so necessary for us all to learn Peace Education at school; because through Peace Education, it changes the way we understand peaceful behavior and brings a change in the atmosphere around the school and a community. It changes a lot of things, and it is necessary because through Peace Education I can see schools will become neater, the learners will become more respectful and the fights and use of drugs will not happen anymore.  When we understand our value or worth then we don’t want to give ourselves a bad name and we also don’t want to live in conflict with others who also have worth. I personally had a friend who was shot and killed during a gang war by a stray bullet. This is why peace is so important for me.

If I have one message today, it also comes from the Peace Education lessons, and that is we need to strive for order – where there is order, wars will not take place.  Through the disorder created by people’s greed and selfishness, wars are started. Let’s spread the seeds of peace into the world, TOGETHER!   Where there is peace hatred, fights, arguments, conflicts, discrimination won’t take place and instead love, peace and harmony will spread.

I think HWPL is doing a good job, because through the Peace Education schools will change to be more presentable, children will be more respectful, and the community might even become more peaceful and there will be fewer wars. When you are taught about peace and harmony, order, forgiveness and respect, you may even spread it to your friends and family and what starts as a small thing will grow over time.

In closing I want to say thank you to the organizers for this peace event today and for allowing me to represent my school, my community and other young school-going learners on Youth Day.