HOW IT ALL BEGAN
At a 2013 YFC board meeting our passionate director, Philip, gave feedback on the recently completed skills development project, Helping Hands (now called iThemba Craft & Skills Centre). The program teaches woman basic sewing skills and equips them with a sewing machine on successful completion of the program.
A valid question was posed to the board, “What about the young men in our community”? And that’s where it all began.
The vision at the outset was very clear. To develop a program that taught young men basic skills that gave them access to job opportunities or the ability to start their own small business. Now all that was needed was a business plan, funding, premises, a project manager, qualified teaching staff or volunteers, equipment and, of course, students.
Many people in the community collaborated during the initial four months of planning with local businessman, Richard Court donating premises, Mark Bandemeyer putting the business plan together and The Kirsh Foundation providing the start-up capital. Garald Bouwer was appointed as Chief Technical trainer and Daan Ludik as project manager. The project would not have got off the ground without the local community pledging funds to cover operating costs.
Daan Ludik (affectionately known as Oom Daan), a qualified Fitter and Turner and Masters degree in teaching, was invited to join the project. A call for applicants went out to local churches, community leaders & schools in the area and over eighty applications were received. After a rigorous selection process sixteen students were selected to begin the course in January 2014.
“Their confidence has grown but most importantly they now feel worthy. And what a blessing to hear a teacher say that these students walk differently, upright and worthy. What a gift!!” says Jerome.
The program is a skills development program with a formal curriculum which includes carpentry, brick & steel work, plumbing, tiling & general maintenance. During the course, students will produce an array of products for resale and trade. Additional business skills such as financial thinking, strategic planning, work ethics and safety are also included in the program. Personal development plays an equally crucial part with the emphasis on the students’ Hands and Heart.
POSITIVE RESULTS FROM SET-BACKS
A lack of funding proved no obstacle for the motivated students. They built their own lecture room tables & work benches and hung doors for their change room lockers. It was so much better than just buying or receiving everything ready-made!
As the year drew to a close it was obvious that the graduation ceremony could and would become a bigger event than originally anticipated. The success of the project and the amazing development of the young men needed to be shared and funds were needed to continue in 2015. Invites were sent, arrangements made and The Graduation was under way. Laughter, chatter, the delicious smell of boerewors in the air painted a picture and gave some idea of the vibe of that night. More importantly, however, were those 11 young men standing proud, receiving their certificates – gowns, caps and all, unable to keep the grins from their faces. Special thanks must also be given to the ladies of the Helping Hands project as they made the garments for the graduates.
Some of the graduates live in the same suburb as YFC’s Jerome Soldaat, leader of program manager of Team Khanya. He says the project has given so much to the young men who were often looked down on.