Katherine YMCA is running youth services again after staff shortages forced them to halt programs for several months.
Newly appointed youth services manager Charles Mbouti has been in the job for a month.
“I was aware that things were not happening in town for a while. I can now confidently say that we have filled the gap and we are back,” Mr Mbouti said.
“We are a new team, we want to work with the wider community. We want to regain the confidence of the community and rebuild our image.”
In addition to Mr Mbouti the YMCA has hired two other youth service workers to meet demand in the community.
“I have been in the job for four weeks and already participation has increased and school attendance has stabilised,” he said.
“Students have been turning up to school everyday because the programs and mentoring we provide motivates them to go to school.”
Mr Mbouti said the YMCA has already begun to plan an extensive school holiday program from Katherine youth.
“School holidays go for six weeks so we are going to have a lot of activities that people have not seen here before. We are going to try out a lot of new things and see what the kids like,” Mr Mbouti said.
“We have already started asking youth what they want to do for the school holidays and try and make those things possible.
“We going to run a money management workshop with the kids. We are going to get a financial expert in to show how to manage money and build financial skills.
“We are going to have a nutrition program as well, we have recently upgraded the kitchen here to an industrial size so we will have a chef come in and run cooking classes to show kids how to prepare healthy meals,” he said.
“I ran a program in Arnhem Land to educate youth on the damaging effects of smoking and that was really successful. We will run that here in Katherine as well.”
Mr Mbouti has an extensive resume in youth engagement around the world.
He has worked for the American Peace Corps Volunteers, facilitated the International Youth Convention and represented Cameroon youth at the United Nations.
He has worked with youth in Nhulunbuy and the Roper Gulf region.
Mr Mbouti’s other talents include speaking nine languages, having a black belt in judo and being a trained firefighter.
“I want to empower kids, I come from extreme poverty, it has been a long journey to where I am now and I want to use my own experiences to empower youth,” Mr Mbouti said.
He is also worked as an international DJ alongside big names like Snoop Dog, Sean Kingston and 50 Cent.