Photo Caption: Volkswagen and Wilderness Foundation Africa moving students forward. From left to right: Jody Munnik, Emmerecia Lekal, Leighton Marero, Siyabulela Hlebani, Malibongwe Kalani, Ntombnoxolo Hlebani.
Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) believes in supporting non-profit organisations that contribute to the empowerment of youth in local communities. One such organisation is Wilderness Foundation Africa and through the Umzi Wethu project (part of its Youth Development Programme) the youth are being trained and uplifted.
Umzi Wethu means "our home" in Xhosa and that is exactly what Wilderness Foundation Africa provides for its students. The project was established in April 2006 and has to date trained 286 students and 227 of them have been placed in full time employment.
The students are selected from disadvantaged communities with limited opportunities. The Umzi Wethu project offers these students both an education and a place to stay that provides stability during the training.
The students are offered comprehensive training programmes such as Professional Cookery or Conservation Resource Guardianship. Additionally, Umzi Wethu trains them on life skills, wellness as well as environmental education such as wilderness trails.
After successfully completing their studies, students who are studying Conservation Resource Guardianship are placed at various SANParks national parks as well as local private game reserves such as Shamwari, Kuzuko and Pumba.
Meanwhile, students that are studying Professional Cookery are placed at local Port Elizabeth restaurants, hotels and coffee shops as well as Hotel groups in the Western Cape such as Spier and Arabella.
Over the years VWSA has supported Umzi Wethu by providing vehicles that have been used to transport the students.
"Wilderness Foundation Africa and VWSA share a strong relationship which has been cultivated over many years. As VWSA, we are glad to continue supporting the Umzi Wethu project which has empowered and given hope to a number of youth in the Nelson Mandela metro," said Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen Group South Africa Chairman and Managing Director.