Growing up in an environment stricken with poverty and crime has taught Nilsan Johanson so many things and a change of heart.
The 19-year-old from Topline Lautoka said he had quite a tough teenage phase as poverty and criminal activities were both on the rise.
Lack of funds and peer pressure in such cases led to unwanted behaviour.
But Mr Johanson believes that youths must change their mindset and start with the journey of doing well for the community and for themselves.
“Once you are in the youth group, your minds will start to change.”
For Josateki Labalaba, president and founder of PYGMIES (Providing Young Generation Movement in Every Society) Youth Group, it all started in a prison.
“When I was in prison, I saw my younger brothers from the turf coming in also and that’s when I thought it cannot be like this,” he stated.
“I met a few of my brothers and told them that we have to stand up for this young generation because his elder brother never told him that.”
That’s when PYGMIES Youth Group was born. Currently, the Government has provided assistance for the construction of a multi-purpose court that would create new employment opportunities for the youths.
Mr Johanson is really looking forward to the development of the group and is hopes that more youths are led to the right path.
Other projects of the group have included visiting the homeless, the sick and those in correction facilities.
According to Mr Labalaba, the high crime rate in the Top Line area in Lautoka seemed to have declined.
“Our area was always known for its Red Zone but criminal activities have declined from the time we formed this youth group,” he added.