2015 has been marked with the certainty that through laughter and tears, Salesian Life Choices has forged itself to be a distinctive player in Cape Town's youth sector.


We feel our ten years of existence have assisted us to develop from the indecisive teenager stage to a stage of early adulthood were we have matured to know who we are and to be certain about our positive contribution towards the youth sector.


We are entering a new chapter in the organisation’s life, where our main focus is to create customer value and to establish long-term relationships. We were inspired by the vision of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little better.”


Salesian Life Choices is committed to make its approach more customer-centered and solutions-based in order to become the organization of CHOICE for Cape Town youth. And even though we understand that this is a long-term commitment, we feel inspired every day to achieve it.   


During this year, we continue challenging ourselves to engender real change. Through our strong belief in the potential of every human being, we consistently delivered personalised, long-term interventions that addresses real needs.


We did not settle for anything less than excellence in every department of the organisation and we had the self-honesty to admit where we were lacking and the courage to change. During this year, we re-structured the Finance, Human Resources, Monitoring & Evaluation and Marketing Departments to be more inline with the organisation’s new development stage. We aimed to run ourselves to the highest operational standards and to become a place where people aspire to work.


We also continue our journey of building a sustainable organisation by developing a strategy in how to diversify income streams through Life Choices Academy.  We plan by 2017 to have the academy fully operational.


With this report we wish to acknowledge and thank everyone who has been involved with Life Choices for the past year and has supported us on this expedition.


Without YOU we could have not made it.




 To Be a Bold Movement Investing in Youth to Tackle Inequality 





Life Choices provides comprehensive services in Family Stability, Health, Education, Leadership and Employment.  Life Choices believes that these five building blocks are critical for youth to thrive.

Life Choices provides services across the Cape Flats communities. 


School interventions run in 12 communities: Lansdowne; Bonteheuwel; Bridgetown; Nyanga; Phillipi; Athlone; Heideveld; Manenberg; Gugulethu; Hanover Park; Crossroads; and Zeekoevlei.

Through each stage of a child’s life, good parenting practices are crucial for optimal development. 

Stage One
Stage Two
Parental Skills
Psychosocial Support
Job Search Counselling
Parental Support Groups

559 parents were provided with seven parental skills sessions (3 hours each session).

203 parents were offered three one-on-one psychosocial support sessions.

206 parents were offered three career guidance & job search counselling sessions.

32 community up-liftment projects were implemented by parents.

16 parent support groups were established reaching 203 parents.    







Anthea Bosch smiles broadly as she talks about her pride and joy, her four girls – her gems.  The corners of her mouth draw attention as it tells the story of someone who loves to laugh but the striking veins on her hands tells of a life with hard corners and deep holes.


Overcoming obstacles has filled Anthea’s life since childhood, growing up in Cape Town she describes her early life as rough and lonely but her current situation as happy and with purpose.


The Life Choices team met Anthea in 2014, during a time when she was experiencing great inner turmoil caused by an unstable childhood and trying to deal with issues of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father.


Urged by her friends who had attended the Family Affairs’ Parenting Workshop to attend the program, Anthea was at first very reluctant and unsure about it but went to “try it out.”


“I love my children very much and want to be the best mother I can be to them, my friends told me that it really helped them so I wanted to give it a chance,” says Anthea.  


Attending the parenting workshops with facilitator Desiree Amon, Anthea says that even though she felt nervous in the beginning of the seven-week program, by the third session she felt completely comfortable and safe to share her story.   


“When I met Life Choices I had very little confidence and I never thought I was good enough. I felt like a complete failure. I felt so bad about myself that some days I would just take my girls to school then come home and sleep all day. I didn’t care about myself and thought I was nothing” says Anthea.


Continuing, Anthea says that the parenting skills workshop really helped her to feel better and that being part of the group made her feel supported. The messages about how to build self-esteem and deal with the memory of your past really changed her life.


Family Affairs intervention works towards creating a safe society where women and children can develop.


Anthea’s feelings of self-doubt and deep issues – a result of years of abuse -  prompted Desiree to immediately recommend psycho-social support. She received one-on-one counselling from Life Choices Therapist Rene’ Roos, a service offered to all participants of Family Affairs.


Raised in a home where love was rarely felt and children were seen but never heard, Anthea’s mother was cold towards her children and the only touch she received from her father resulted in bruises and pain.


“My father was a terrible person, a drug addict and gangster who served time in prison for killing two men. We feared him,” says Anthea.


Broken glass often covered the floor of the home that Anthea shared with her parents and her two younger siblings.  Her father often would go into rage and lash out with anything and at anyone. Talking about the various incidents that took place between the four walls, Anthea recalls an incident when her father held a knife towards her and punctured her skin.


It is close to surreal, the calm at which Anthea talks about her childhood as it is hard to imagine a child going through such violence.


Asked about her calm demeanor when talking about her father, she says, “For years I carried it with me I could not talk about it without crying I would break down when something reminded me of the incident but today I am in the process of healing.”


She continues, “I never knew how to deal with what my father did to me but after meeting with the Life Choices Therapist who gave me tools to use and helped me talk about the deep pain I was feeling this really changed my life. I want to be a great mother and wife and I know now that the only way I can do that is if I deal with my past and heal.”


Today, at 41 Anthea says that she is finally learning to live.


“I will always have what happened to me in my head, but I have learnt to refuse it to rule my life. It was not easy getting to where I am. But I know that I am good enough, I want my daughters to have a mother who has confidence because I want them to be confident and dream big,” says Anthea.


Anthea has a job for the first time in her life because she says that Life Choices has given her the confidence to grow.


“I never thought I was capable of working, I really thought I would mess it up because I believed that I would fail. I no longer believe that and I am enjoying my first job as a Stocktaker. I believe meeting with Life Choices Job Search Councellor - Mushtaaq Abrahams motivated me to start applying for jobs” says Anthea.


 “I truly believe that my life would have been completely different if I had not taken a chance and attended that first workshop.  I can now talk to others about my life without breaking into tears and helping them in their own lives,” says Anthea.


With a life filled with purpose, Anthea is saving money towards taking a course in Home Based Care and with her determination to improve her family’s life one can tell she will definitely manage it.




Family Affairs' evaluation has shown statistically significant improvements in six subscales of good parenting: Self-Esteem; Family Problem Solving Communication; Depression; Role Satisfaction; Parent-Child Interaction and Parent Efficacy, all of which were moderate to large in effect size among parents that have been offered the intervention.




The Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1979) was developed to measure general self-esteem. It is a 10-item Guttman scale with a high reliability and validity (Fisher & Corcoran, 2007). The Family Affairs intervention specifically targets the self-esteem of parents in the hope that it will affect how parents interact with their children. The hope is that the parent’s greater self-esteem will increase their nurturing behaviour and this will in turn preserve the child’s self-esteem or increase it.



Family Problem Solving Communication

The Family Problem Solving Communication (FPSC) (McCubbin, McCubbin, & Thompson, 1996) questionnaire is a 10-item instrument developed to measure family communication. When it comes to family communication, two dominant patterns emerge: positive (affirming) and negative (incendiary). These patterns play a major role in establishing resilience and affect how families cope with major life stressors.



Depression, Role Satisfaction, Parent-Child Interaction

and Parenting Efficacy

The Healthy Families Parenting Inventory (LeCroy, Krysik & Milligan, 2005) is a 63-item instrument that measures the major dimensions of healthy parenting. It looks at important aspects of behaviour, attitudes and perceptions related to parenting and has 9 distinct subscales: social support, problem-solving, depression, personal care, mobilizing resources, role satisfaction, parent/child interaction, home environment, and parenting efficacy  (Fisher & Corcoran, 2007).  It was developed specifically to evaluate home visitations interventions designed to prevent child abuse and neglect and improve parent-child interaction and is thus a very good tool to use in this study  (Fisher & Corcoran, 2007).



Based on the results of the Health4Life evaluation, clients improved:


HIV knowledge


Clients were asked 10 questions related to HIV facts and were asked to answer ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Don’t know’. Responses were scored as either incorrect or correct. The average total HIV scores pre- and post-HCT shows that there was a statitsically significant increase in correct HIV knowledge with a large effect size, suggesting clients show substantial increases in their HIV factual knowledge as a result of receiving HCT.


Self-efficacy to implement healthy HIV related behaviour.


Clients were asked 4 questions related to their self-efficacy to implement healthy HIV related behaviour. The results show that respondents showed statistically significant improvements in perceived self-efficacy to tell their partner their HIV status (medium effect size), and to ask their partner their HIV status (large effect size).

Perception of Risk Reduction Behaviour

Figure 1: Distribution of responses to item ‘Did you and your counsellor make a plan for changes you can make to reduce your HIV risk?’

Figure 2: Distribution of responses to item ‘How much of your plan do you think you will do?’


Youth Friendly

HIV counselling

and Testing



Gender based talks

around sexuality and reproductive health

5,996  HIV Counselling & Testing session were conducted  [3379 (56.4%) were conducted in communities and 2617 (43.6%) were conducted in schools].


217 people were diagnosed HIV positive [191 community clients (5.7%) and 26 school clients (1%)].

5,996 people were screened for TB.

3,550 people were screened for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

18 high schools were offered the intervention.

179 learners received one-on-one psychosocial support sessions.

2,356 learners were reached with Gender-Based Talks (attending minimum two talks out of the four offered).


Choosing to live a healthier life



The future of human societies depends on children being able to achieve their optimal physical growth and psychological development. 





Two years ago at his friends 19th birthday, Ridah Manuel then 16, had his first try of marijuana and taste of alcohol. He says he was inquisitive and that his friends were pushing him to try it, so he just gave in.


When he talks about the years that followed he interrupts his thoughts with words like “I know it was wrong” or he stops a sentence half way saying that he is not proud of what he has done.


“I’m not proud of what I’ve done, but I am happy I woke up in time before everything got worse. I really have Health4Life Counsellor to thank for that – he really helped me get back on my feet,” says Ridah.


Salesian Life Choices offers the Health4Life intervention in the school that Ridah attends. Once a week a Health4Life counsellor provides one-on-one youth friendly HIV counselling & testing services and group talks in reproductive health. The programme also offers one-on-one psychosocial support sessions with a therapist to learners with deeper social issues.


The Salesian Life Choices team met Ridah last year when the Health4Life Cousellor approached his class and asked who would like to have an HIV test. Ridah says that he raised his hand because he thought “why not?”


“At that time of my life I was a stoner* I would just think what the hell and get high and drunk. I was playful, loud, I would smoke and drink often, I would say I was irresponsible. My friends were older than me so they always had drinks or weed*. I didn’t really take school seriously and I had become less active and disinterested in life. Before I would jog or take part in activities but at that time I didn’t bother.”


Adding to drugs and alcohol, Ridah would often not think about the consequences of his actions.


“I’ve had many girlfriends and have been sexually active with most of them. Most times I would use condoms, but there were times when I didn’t think about what I was doing. We would just have sex without using a condom.  I never thought about any consequences.”

Meeting the Health4Life counsellor, Ridah says made him think seriously about his behaviour especially in those minutes while waiting for the results of his HIV test.


“During the time when I was waiting for the result I was thinking about what I’ve done in the past and that I could be HIV positive. Before I only thought of having a good time.”


When the result came back negative, Ridah says he felt like he was lighter and that he knew then that he had to change his lifestyle.

Ridah would continue to meet with the counsellor for four more sessions.


“It really made a difference, because I could speak to him, being open with somebody was something different for me. I don’t really trust anyone. I would try to speak to my brothers but it would always be like a joke to them.”


The goal setting exercise Ridah completed with the counsellor really made a difference and allowed him to look at his future differently.

“He asked me what my life goals were, afterwards, he took a page and showed me all the goals I told him I had and then he wrote down all the unhealthy behaviours I was practicing. He asked me to reflect on my attitudes/behaviours and if they were helping me in anyway to reach my goals.  After a very honest talk, he looked at me and said, ‘let us be real and make a plan that can help you to reach your goals.’ This really helped me, he guided me to make my own plan, it made it seem possible.”


Ridah’s opportunity came a few weeks later when an English teacher at his school announced that he was starting a cycling club and that any interested students must meet him after assembly.


“I’ve always thought about doing things like cycling, but I was very playful so I didn’t think I could achieve it. I had agreed with my counsellor that I should become more involved in sports as a move towards a healthier life style. I wanted to get more fit, body and stamina wise, so I joined the club. I was the first one to join and helped recruit other students as well. In the end the team had four student cyclists.”


Ridah’s school gave each of them a bicycle to practice on, but the bicycles needed to return to the school after practice and weekends.

“We would normally practice on a Wednesday after school. In the beginning it was regular but then Mr Lucus would get busy or forget. I would always ask him when we going to start again. I was persistent. Riding was freedom for me, I got to clear my mind.”


Unfortunately, Ridah and his team mates cycling hit a bump in the road as their bicycles were stolen this year from the school store room.


“All we found were two frames that were completely stripped. It made me feel so crap because we were really enjoying it. Because the cost of buying bicycles would be too much for our parents, I am currently looking for new bikes to pursue our cycling further. I have approached cycling shops but they told me we need to be a registered team to get bicycles. So we are currently looking at how to register ourselves so that we can hopefully start cycling again.”


Motivated to keep true to his goals, Ridah continues to keep fit today by walking and jogging regardless of his situation.


Ridah says that he has also learned a surprising lesson about himself after meeting Salesian Life Choices.


“I would always think that I should change my friends and community, because they were the bad influence. I have realised now that what I needed was to find the confidence to stand up to them. They often ask me if I want to drink or smoke and I tell them I’m on a different buzz*. They call me weak or scared but it doesn’t affect me. This is how I know I am different because what they said used to get to me, but today it doesn’t. I know what I want in life and nothing will stop me.”


According with the 2015 National Youth Policy, youth-targeted interventions are needed to enable young South Africans to actively participate and engage in society and the economy.  Only 31% of youth, in 2011, completed their matric (Grade12) education. According to the June 2014 labour force survey, 36.1 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 35 are unemployed in South Africa.


According to the 2015 National Youth Policy, youth-targeted interventions are needed to enable young South Africans to actively participate and engage in society and the economy. Only 31% of youth, in 2011, completed their matric (Grade12) education. According to the June 2014 labour force survey, 36.1% of young people between the ages of 15 and 35 are unemployed in South Africa.  

2014 Alumni Results for 78 Participants
The intervention combines classroom theoretical and experiential learning with opportunities to practice the learning into real life situations (learning by doing). Through these activities participants enter a journey of reflective learning.
Diversity exchange experience (one-on-one)
Job shadowing and professional mentorship in a field of their choice
Volunteer work for a cause they are passionate about
Designing and leading innovative outreach projects in schools and communities
Serving on a leadership committee

First and second year top university students tutor groups of 10 learners over a year. The tutoring happens on Saturday mornings and over school holidays and covers multiple subjects according to the needs of the group. Tutors receive stipends in order to assist in their university life.  On average students receive 100 hours of tutoring during the year.

Participants have the opportunity to be seen by a therapist that assists them in dealing with their deepest issues.



201learners reached with leadership training and tutoring;
120 learners spent 24 hours with a peer from a diverse background (exchange);
12 photography exhibition projects;
105 learners participated in two days of job shadowing;
122 learners volunteered eight hours to a social cause;
68 Grade 12 learners were matched with  professional mentors for 18 months;

64 learners were accepted in tertiary education institutions.

Siphosihle Xoki Speaking Her Way To Success


Siphosihle Xoki, 17, a Grade 11 student, has a shy disposition, making it hard to believe that she recently represented the Western Cape at a national public speaking competition hosted by the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation.


A dedicated and hard worker, Siphosihle joined the Leaders’ Quest programme from Salesian Life Choices in the beginning of this year.

“I originally joined Salesian Life Choices because I thought it would help me with my studies. Leaders’ Quest offers academic tutoring to learners each Saturday, so I thought I did not have anything to lose by joining. I had no idea that I would gain so much more with the programme. Especially the leadership workshops, they have  made me think about myself differently – more positively.”


Siphosihle grew up in Khayelitsha, she is the daughther of a domestic worker and a taxi driver. Talking about her parents, Siphosihle tears up as she says: “My parents are my rolemodels, they have always worked hard to give me and my brother a good life. My mother especially has always motivated me to be better and to succeed through education.”


With her first language being Xhosa at home, Siphosihle’s parents thought it would be good for her to learn how to speak English and so they enrolled her to attend English medium schools since Grade R.


An attribute that led heavily to Siphosihle’s success as a Public Speaker. Her journey into Public Speaking began when Siphosihle’s Grade 10 Life Sciences teacher, Mrs May told them about the Department of Water and Sanitation Youth Summit’s Public Speaking Competition held in Johannesburg. 


“Mrs May would always tell us about the previous learners who took part in the summit. I always wanted to enter but I never believed that I could do it. But this year when Mrs May approached eight of us to enter the competition, I was ready because I felt good about myself. I think being part of Salesian Life Choices definitely had something to do with me entering the competition. Since the beginning of the year, our coaches told us that where we are born doesn’t need to dictate where we are going. We worked with this message in so many different formats that after a while I started to believe in it. This made me feel that I can do anything I choose to and that competitions like these are not only for other people.”


“Mrs May told us that we needed to do research on the uses and threats to ground water for environmental purposes. We had to write about 800 words and speak about it in front of a panel from the Department of Water and Sanitation.”

Siphosihle says that the timing of the competition proved very challenging because it was the same time as the beginning of the June exams.


“Only four of us remained in the competition after the others dropped out.  My peers said it was too challenging because we had never been taught about ground water in class and because it was exam time so they couldn’t spare the time for the project. But I committed myself, I would work on the speech after school and over the weekend. The extra classes I received at Leaders’ Quest really helped me because it prepared me for the exams and allowed me to have time to work on the speech.”


“I know that if I didn’t receive the leadership training from Salesian Life Choices I might not have stayed on and I would have dropped out like the others. One of the leadership modules was about ‘Your Story’ and for few weeks I worked on my life story and publicly presented it to my peers and the staff. This gave me a lot of confidence on my public speaking. With the training, I also began seeing myself as a leader and understood the importance of commitment and hardwork. Even though it was difficult I knew that if I gave my best in the end it would pay off.”


Two weeks after giving her written speech to Mrs May, three officials from the Department came to Siphosihle’s school and she presented her speech to them. Siphosihle and her peers were told that the officials are visiting other Western Cape schools and that they would be told who was chosen after two weeks.


“I was writing my second last June exam when Mrs May said that she wanted to see me after the exam. When Mrs May told me I was chosen to represent the Western Cape, I couldn’t believe it.” 


“I was so excited, in the past I would have describe myself as a shy person and would never think I would do well in public speaking. I was so happy that I had proven myself wrong.”


After a week, Siphosihle  left for Joburg. In Johannesburg for the first time, Siphosihle says that she was overwhelmingly excited and that she had opportunities to listen to speeches about the value of water and also met the Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation Affairs Pamela Tshwete.


On the day of the competition, Siphosihle says she was nervous but prepared.


“While sitting in a room before we were going to present I looked around, and the others had cue cards, but because I memorised my speech I thought it was an advantage for me. The judges gave us ten minutes to present.”


“I had never spoken in front of that many people, I just kept telling myself I can do it and pushed myself to do it.”


“The girl before me was really good. When I did my speech, I skipped a line, but I just thought to continue because I didn’t want to mix up. All the others used a famous quote in their speeches and I didn’t. But I kept thinking that I am being true to who I am, and that I was just grateful to be there and be given this opportunity.”


Siphosihle says that nothing could prepare her for what was going to happen next.


“When they were announcing the winners and they said, number three Gauteng, number two Siphosihle Xoxi from the Western Cape. I couldn’t believe it, I was so happy.”


Siphosihle was awarded a bursary to study any water-related career at any university in the Western Cape.

“I don’t think I would have been able to succeed in this competition without my friends, my mom and Salesian Life Choices. Exercises like when we had to make a dream chart really let me see what I want and where I want to go. So when we were told about this competition I knew I wanted to go to Johannesburg because it represented a step closer to my successful life.”


“I know now that I am a public speaker and a leader in the making. I know that I wouldn’t have had the courage to agree to enter the competition or the commitment and focus to complete the speech if I didn’t believe in myself – I learned that from Salesian Life Choices.”




Ongoing partnership with a range of different donors and partners is critical in ensuring that Salesian Life Choices is able to deliver on its mandate.


Thank you very much for your support.