Lwazi Xinwa, Umzi 5 graduate, has been working at Wilderness Foundation Africa for 8 years. He is currently working as Senior Facilitator of the Youth Development Programme. Lwazi is a great facilitator who has a big heart for his students and has an incredible story that we would like to share with you:
At birth Lwazi found himself at the doorstep of a stranger’s house, abandoned by his real parents. He was then taken to a children’s home, where at 5 years old he was adopted by two loving parents from Uitenhage who raised him as their own child.
“In Uitenhage – life was not as sweet and comfortable as I would have liked it to be. Since I was abandoned by my real parents and my father passed away when I was young, I got ridiculed as a young boy. I would often have people saying to me that I’m not part of the family and that I was dumped. Peer pressure played a big part in my younger days and I started getting involved in the wrong crowd.
My mom was a pillar of strength for me- she was the one who kept me going and played both a father and mother figure in my life.”
Tell us about your journey with Wilderness Foundation Africa
“In 2008, the Wilderness Foundation Africa team came to do a presentation about Umzi Wethu in Uitenhage. I remember attending the talk that day and thinking in the back of my mind that this was absurd as I saw it as school and wanted to get a proper job.
At the time, the struggle was unbearable, my mom had TB and we weren’t living a great life.
An opportunity arose for me to go for an interview at Umzi Wethu, which I reluctantly attended due to my mom’s efforts. After the interview, I did not hear from the programme and was somewhat relieved since I was never interested in attending Umzi Wethu, but God had other plans for me.
A week into the programme, I got a phone call saying that a spot had opened up and that I must come join Umzi Wethu.
I came into Umzi Wethu with a low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. I remember our first wellness session was the first time I had ever disclosed my story to other people and it was probably the saddest day of my life.
On 7 September 2008, the day that would change my life forever, I received the news that my mom had passed away. I realised that day, I had no real family left and made the decision to take control of my life. I realised I needed to start my own life and raise a family with a new mindset about life. One that would see the world differently to how I was brought up and that is exactly what I did.
After graduating top in the class at Umzi Wethu, I was fortunate to be placed as the Catering Team Leader at Wilderness Foundation Africa. From there I was appointed facilitator of the Youth Development where I moved on to my current position as Senior Facilitator of Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Youth Development Programme.”
What challenges do you face?
“My biggest challenge for me is when I come across young people who are not ready to change their lives or don’t want to change who they are.”
What has been your favourite moment as a facilitator?
“My favourite moment is when our students start seeing the world in a different perspective. They realise that they have been abusing the world by their way of thinking.
A girl in my class once said that we must stop adapting to the world and we must start letting the world adapt into our own way of thinking. That really touched me.”
What are your dreams for the future?
“My dream since I was small was to become a social worker.
Working at Wilderness Foundation Africa, my dream has changed. I love being able to change and touch young people’s lives and if I can keep on doing that then I will be fully satisfied in life.
My passion I have for young people comes from the history of my life. I really want to give back to others from what I got from this organisation.”
“Wilderness Foundation Africa is both directly and indirectly touching thousands of young people’s lives. Directly through our Youth Development Programme, where young people are now transitioning from being unemployable to employable; and indirectly through students who are going home and sharing with others in their community what they have learnt.
If it wasn’t for Wilderness Foundation Africa, I would not be where I am today. There have been many values and life lessons that I have learnt from Umzi Wethu and working at Wilderness Foundation Africa. My fellow colleagues have shaped me into the facilitator that I am today. It has been a life changing journey and I look forward to many more great memories with WFA."