The 19th of January, 2016, marked yet another incredible journey and good story to tell for the Wilderness Foundation Africa. It was day one in class for many budding and eager to learn Siyazenzela students. But like everyone else on their first day of school, the emotions were a mixture of excitement and nervousness about the journey ahead. The students were meeting for the very first time inside the classroom after their wilderness selection trail.
The Siyazenzela students started out in a shy manner, reluctant to air their views and share. However, once Lwazi and Siyasanga, the facilitators of the programme initiated an ice breaker after dividing the students into groups of four, the mood started to shift immediately. Gone was the reserve and everyone was participating with enthusiasm. The day’s work mainly focused on introductions and norms for the road ahead. In their groups, students quickly got busy with task one: discussing and coming up with an agreed code to which they agree to adhere and presented these in class. It quickly became clear that everyone in the room meant business.
Heeding the call by government, to lessen the impact of HIV on orphans, vulnerable children and youth; Siyazenzela - a youth development programme of the Wilderness Foundation Africa, has been running for vulnerable youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to support job livelihoods training. It is based on the wellness paradigm and includes a broad range of themes including: Physical Wellness, Occupational and Financial Wellness, Social and Emotional Wellness, Environmental and Spiritual Wellness.
Most of this year’s intake in the Siyazenzela programme is comprised of recently matriculated youth who missed the chance to go to a tertiary institution to pursue their studies further. Through Siyazenzela, the 35 selected students now have a chance. Siyazenzela has been carefully developed to support physical and psychological wellness, aiming to provide specific support to the students as they complete the employability, skills development or vocational training aspects of the programme.
In the aftermath of the global recession, the unemployment rate among black African youth rose from 36,3% in 2008 to almost 40,0% each year over the period 2010–2014, peaking at 40,3% in 2015. It is for this reason that the Wilderness Foundation Africa, through Siyazenzela, seeks to deliver holistic skills development and education interventions that equip young people to be economically active and environmentally responsible citizens.
At the core of our interventions young people are empowered to become financially independent entrepreneurs and breadwinners for their families.