Life Skills Training
We offer life skills training to out-of-school youth in the Weenen area (16-35 years). The training is facilitated by our youth volunteers. A range of topics are covered in the training including goal setting, communication and leadership, volunteerism, healing of the past, savings and budgeting, enrepeneurship, personal development, health relationships, CV writing and job preparation, HIV transmission and prevention, pregnancy, STIs, gender roles, abuse and peer education. The training is over a four week period with sessions four days a week. We believe our life skills training gives these youth the skills they need to reach their full potential and to begin finding meaningful employment.
We believe giving the youth a hand up and not a hand out. Many of the youth in the area have no job experience which makes it difficult for them to find work. In order to develop themselves and gain valuable skills, we encourage our youth to volunteer their time to developing their community. Many of our youth volunteer as peer educators through the Stars of Tomorrow program where they visit schools in the area performing dramas and visit community members teaching about sugar daddies, pregnancy, HIV, sexual abuse and alcoholism. Before youth can become an official member of our organization they must volunteer in their community!
We offer computer trainings at reduced cost to our youth members. The training covers computer basics, Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and typing. Through our partnership with DLG Communication in Estcourt, we are able to offer our youth SETA certificates at the completion of the course pending their passing of the final exam. Many employers look favorable on computer skills so we are equipping our youth with the necessary tools they need to be ready for the workplace.
Small business development is a great way for youth to develop their community and to gain employment. SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency) offers small business training with our youth and our staff conduct follow up sessions with the youth to make their dreams a reality for those who want to start businesses.
Job support services
We offer CV assistance, printing and photocopying services free of charge to our members. When applying for jobs, bursaries or further education opportunities, there are many costs including involved. By offering free photocopying and printing we are hoping it lessens the burden of youth hoping to find employment or return to school. We also post job opportunities and bursary information at our centre and encourage youth to apply.
We realize the need for the youth to have a strong support system to keep themselves out of trouble and focused on living a positive, healthy lifestyle. Our youth leadership committee holds meetings twice at month at our centre for youth to discuss issues that are important to them, to plan fun events and to find ways to improve the centre. They also play sports outside the centre including football, netball and volleyball. The youth are an integral part to the success of the project.
Addressing HIV/AIDS and pregnancy:
HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy are real issues in our community. In Umtshezi Municipality, 36% of the population is infected with HIV, not to mention countless others who are affected by it as parents die leaving orphans and youth without positive role models, guidance and direction in their lives. In Weenen there are many out-of-school youth who are unemployed, no longer under the support of the education system and vulnerable because of the high HIV rate and high unemployment rate of 70%. Pregnancy is also a major concern in the area as 40% of the youth between 20-24 years have at least one child in our community. We believe our integrated approach which includes life skills, community service, technical skills development and support services reduces the youth’s risk to HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy by giving them tangible skills which adds to their development and empowerment and most importantly: hope. Hope for a better life, hope for a better today and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
60 out-of-youth from Weenen area have completed our life skills training in February and June 2012. 20 of our youth have received computer training. 20 of our youth completed the SEDA small business start up training in November 2011. More than 600 community members in Weenen were reached through the peer education sugar daddy campaign in March and April. 1,800 learners at 20 of the schools in the Weenen area were reached from September to November 2012 in our campaign with the SAPS where the youth performed dramas to educate learners about abuse, pregnancy and HIV.
Where we work
Weenen is a small rural town located about 35km from Estcourt in Umtshezi Municipality, Uthukela District of KwaZulu Natal. There are 15 rural areas surrounding Weenen, most of which do not have electricity or running water. The HIV rate in the municipality is 36% and the unemployment rate is 70%. Those living in the rural areas are often forgotten by the municipality and often lack easy access to basic health services and information because of transport issues and poverty. Many people in the community survive off government grants and pensions but are not employed themselves. The youth in the area working on this project are from Ezitendeni, a location 7km from Weenen which started as an emergency camp during Apartheid where Zulus were relocated. Today the community has grown to over 8,000 people but HIV, unemployment, high birth rate, alcoholism, abuse and a lack of hope and opportunity frequently plague those living here.
Home to approximately 200,000 members of the Zulu people, Msinga suffers from an unemployment rate upwards of 80%, illiteracy levels of over two thirds of the population and the vast majority of homes lack running water or electricity. Fourteen thousand of the district’s 80,000 children are unable to attend the district’s schools, many of which themselves have no water or electricity, let alone sufficient or properly qualified teachers. Compounding the district’s struggles is the omnipresent specter of the AIDS epidemic. Msinga rivals the highest rate of HIV rates of any region in the world. Nearly 40% of the population is estimated to be HIV positive, many of whom are co-infected with tuberculosis, including various drug resistant strains of the disease which are accompanied by excessively high mortality rates. Measured by per capita income and employment statistics, Msinga is the second most disadvantaged community in all of South Africa.
Thank you to our partners: Department of Social Development, SAPS, Department of Health, Umtshezi Municipality, More Magic Computers, Macksons, DLG Communications, Siyanakekela Community Care Centre, Expanded Public Works, Meals on Wheels, SEDA, Isibili Projects, Sam-Lyn Training Centre, U.S. Peace Corps.