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South African youth need to stand together to make our country a better place to liveFor Jamie Potgieter, being an NSRI volunteer is about working with children while saving lives.The 21-year-old Junior Academy Coordinator and Trainee Coxwain is based at NSRI Station 27 Gauteng and has volunteered for six years, doing close to 1 000 hours of service.The NSRI operates in both coastal and inland waters, and the non-profit organisation is staffed by volunteers who are on standby day and night throughout the year to ensure water safety is maintained and people in distress are rescued. Station 27 Gauteng, situated in Benoni, a town in Ekurhuleni municipality, is one of five inland stations operating around dams and rivers with the goal to prevent drowning through rescue operations, education and prevention initiatives.“My father started volunteering with NSRI when I was 5 years old so I grew up running around rescue bases, some would say it is in my blood,” Potgieter said.Apart from assisting with water safety at events such as school canoeing, she is in charge of training the juniors and developing the next generation of rescuers.“I am currently working in sales but hope to study teaching as my passion is working with children, which is what I really enjoy about my position with NSRI.”She says being a volunteer is not always easy, “many people don’t understand that we are giving up our free time to help them but we keep doing it because it is our passion and ‘It’s what we do’”.NSRI volunteers are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and the heart of the non-profit organisation.When not volunteering, Potgieter enjoys spending time with friends and family as well as quad biking and riding her horse Charlie.“We as youth are the future of this country so I believe we all need to stand together to make our country a better place to live.” June is celebrated as Youth Month in South Africa to remember the sacrifices of past generations of young people in the attainment of freedom and also to recognise the role of youth in shaping the future of the country. Youth Month 2020 was launched under the theme Youth Power: Growing South Africa together in the Period of COVID-19.The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is the charity organisation that saves lives on South African waters – both coastal and inland. The NSRI works to prevent drowning through rescue operations, education and prevention initiatives. The NSRI is totally reliant on donations and sponsorships in order to do the work of saving lives, changing lives, and creating futures. Visit for more information.The minimum age for joining the National Sea Rescue Institute as a trainee rescuer is 16 years of age. Some NSRI stations offer a junior academy where candidates are able to join in for some of the theory related training from age 12 onwards. On this basis, these candidates are able to become fully fledged rescue crew once they have passed the minimum number of sea hours and practical assessments shortly after turning 16 - due to the benefit of having completed most of the theoretical aspects sooner.Please note, that as with any trainee and any volunteer – training conditions and expectations are appropriately matched to the candidate’s ability, to manage their safety.
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