Siyazenzela was initially designed to ensure that youth interested in participating in the Umzi Wethu Academy were provided with the same intensive life skills and wellness interventions that were usually only available to those selected for the 12 month Academy programme. By introducing life skills training, environmental education and experience to what was essentially an employability skills training programme (aimed at addressing undermining attitudes prevalent amongst vulnerable youth in South Africa), Wilderness Foundation Africa has transformed the programme into a holistic intervention critical in the development of sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable youth in SA.
- Wilderness Foundation Africa
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Siyazenzela: Understanding Cultures and Respecting Diversity
The beautiful thing about South Africa is its diverse cultures and heritage. We are a nation that prides itself on the beauty of our land and its people. In an effort to emulate and teach students the importance of understanding cultural diversity and ensuring tolerance, Siyazenzela hosted a cultural event as part of their programme to create and develop a deeper awareness and understanding of the cultural dynamics.
It aimed to teach students to appreciate and understand cultural differences and particularly those that exist in South Africa. It raised awareness of the many thousands of Africans from many countries who live within our border, and for whom South Africa has become their home. Embracing cultural diversity is a particularly important topic in the light of the xenophobic violence that has been prevalent in our country. It is also important for job readiness as the students know to expect to interact with a broad range of people in their world of work.
The Siyazenzela students are about to embark on a journey of employment seeking after they graduate from the programme on February 11, 2016. In groups of four, they presented their findings of a culture they had been assigned to research. Their presentations covered food and drink, tradition and religion as well as dance across cultures.
It goes without saying that these students are taking a keen interest in their future and what it holds. Their presentations were truly inspiring! This is the nature of the Siyazenzela programme as it supports and contributes to the development of young people within our city.
Siyazenzela – We are doing for ourselves
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.
Graduation Ceremony – Siyazenzela
J.K. Rowling notes that "it is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” Refusing to let failure determine the course of their lives, the first Siyazenzela group for 2016, graduated from the wellness and skills development programme on 11 February 2016.
The majority of students enrolled in the programme are recently matriculated youth. Due to their circumstances, they have missed out on the opportunity to gain access to institutions of higher learning or to a job to sustain them and their families. Looking for second chances, the eager youth enrolled for the Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Siyazenzela Programme. Pride and joy were written on the graduates faces as they went up to the podium one by one to receive their certificates. They were in high spirits, singing and chanting at their achievement. The day was indeed one to stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Addressing and congratulating his peers and classmates, Siyabulela Hlebani had the following to say: "This is an act of personal commitment, pride and hard work. We all have dedicated ourselves to get to this day, and all that hard work will not go to waste. Graduation is a milestone, yes, but never the end goal. It is, instead, part of the larger journey of life. This graduation should serve as a launching point projecting us to where we aim to be. It should serve as a starting point to further our achievements."
The first group of the Siyazenzela programme for 2016 had enrolled 35 learners. 30 learners have graduated and received a certificate of recognition from the programme. Out of these 35 learners, fifteen of the most promising have been afforded an opportunity to attend a Computer course with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – a partner of the Wilderness Foundation Africa.
The Wilderness foundation will cover transport costs for selected students to attend and complete the week long computer course with the university. This project is in line with the organisation’s vision to offer skills training to vulnerable youth to enable them to better compete in employment seeking.
With the Siyazenzela programme, youth are empowered with necessary job skills that prospective employers require from their employees. In this way, Wilderness Foundation Africa makes its contribution to curbing high unemployment and poverty in the country.
A poem shared by Yandisa Balekile:
From Darkness to Light
I was a child
Who was in the dark about the outside world
Who depended on parents
Who did not even know who she is
But you taught me
To be an adult
You taught me
About what this world offers me
You taught me
To be independent
You taught me
To be a professional
Made me see
That I am powerful beyond measures
Now I know
I now know
For my life to be what I want
I have to do it myself
To make a difference in my life
I have to be the change that I want to
See in my life
I have to let my light shine … and
All begins with me