“There were times I used to find myself lost; sometimes I found myself not feeling meaningful. I have learnt the importance of self-definition and living purposefully. I’m at a point where I no longer have to prove myself to anyone, but I have to work hard and achieve.” – Fikile Tubu
Fikile is a graduate of the Elevation Programme – a Wellington-based initiative launched in May 2017 with the aim to restore hope to the unemployed through life skills training, skills development and job placement. The programme is currently operational in Mbekweni, Klapmuts, Wellington and Paarl-East.
The stories of its impact are best told by the learners and graduates themselves and as you read them, a common theme emerges. Before encountering Elevation, they all felt that their lives were lacking in purpose and direction. They could not recognise their intrinstic value and they simply couldn’t envision a better future. The challenges standing in the way of any dreams they might have had, appeared to be insurmountable.
“It is so important that we address these issues before we enroll students in an official training course. Restoration needs to take place. Faulty beliefs need to be challenged. Each student needs to discover his or her value and understand that God has given them purpose and the ability to make a difference,” says Programme Coordinator, Gerrit le Roux.
Laying a solid foundation
For this very reason, the Elevation Programme kicks off with a 10-day lifeskills course that addresses three key areas: identity, purpose and restoration. The course lays a Christ-centred foundation and learners are equipped with practical life skills. The result is a renewed sense of purpose and changed morals and values.
Once the students have completed the Foundations for Life programme, the Elevation team spends time with each student to do a career assessment and help them discover their occupational interests and aptitude.
TJ Manyaka is one of the course facilitators at Elevation. His presentation style is dynamic, interactive and engaging with a good dose of humour in between. His passion for uplifting and inspiring his learners comes across so clearly.
Equipping for the future
“We then look for training opportunities in those fields where the students’ interests lie,” says Gerrit. Wamakersvallei Training Centre, HJN Training and Valley Agriskills are amongst the organisations currently training Elevation graduates for future careers.
The challenges are numerous. First, one has to identify the right training institution to meet the student’s needs and then funding is always an issue. Elevation also assists students to apply for bursaries. Another major challenge is that of transport, explains Gerrit. Students cannot always get to those areas where training is offered and do not have the money to cover their transport.
In the final, job placement stage of the programme, the primary objective is to connect with potential employers and create opportunities for learners to gain workplace experience and find permanent employment. “We received some great news this year. We applied to the Services SETA for learnerships in generic management at host employers. Students will now be able to receive a stipend whilst doing their internships with prospective employers,” says Gerrit.
Elevation in action
Wendy Mafila envisioned a future in the field of policing or security, but she could simply never realise her dream. She completed the Elevation Programme, received training and practical experience at HJN Training in Wellington and today, Wendy is in uniform, offering training at a security company in Bellville.
The team at Elevation agrees that it is just so wonderful to see a transformation take place and someone’s dreams fulfilled.
At Valley Agriskills, Elevation graduate and aspiring teacher, Sidima Ganjana smiles broadly as he show us their crops. Here, students are trained in the ‘Farming God’s Way’ model. The training is both theoretical and practical and during our visit, the students were getting their hands dirty, learning to plant herbs. Sidima discovered his green fingers whilst doing training at Valley Agriskills and is now in charge of the gardens.
Even once graduates are settled in at their new workplaces, the Elevation team maintains contact with them and offers ongoing mentorship.
A challenging task
The greatest challenges facing the programme include:
- Building the network of potential employers;
- The need for training centres/courses within the communities as learners cannot afford transport costs to centres outside their neighbourhoods;
- Addressing the issue of ‘drop-outs’ (students who do not complete the process)
More than training, more than jobs
Ultimately, the Elevation Programme is about restoration: restoring the learner’s view of self, God and the world; restoring dignity; igniting hope for the future; and giving each participant a renewed sense of direction.
When someone believes that they have something to offer and that they have a role to play as a productive member in society, that realisation has the power to change their life. Elevation is helping to restore hopes and dreams that were lost to disappointment and disillusionment. Where lives were let down, their goal is to lift up.
“I didn’t have plans about what I was going to do after grade 12. I thank God that I could become part of the Elevation Programme. It opened my eyes … and Mr le Roux saw something in me that I didn’t know I had.” – Sidima Ganjana
YOU CAN HELP
- Support training centres financially
- Sponsor a student’s training
- Introduce the Elevation team to prospective training institutions, as well as prospective hosts for learnerships and employers
- Contribute towards the transport costs of learners
If you would like to get involved with the Elevation programme, get in touch with Valcare at firstname.lastname@example.org.