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Innovative volunteer project empowering impoverished Cape Town community

Jul 10, 2018

Nyanga East is an area in one of the oldest and poorest parts of Cape Town, South Africa. Nyanga in Xhosa means “moon” and black migrants, having fled conflict and economic depression in other African countries, were forced to settle there during the apartheid era. That’s where WYSE Travel Confederation member, Good Hope Volunteers, is connecting volunteers to the Nyanga Upliftment Project, a non-profit initiative offering innovative and sustainable services to support the community burdened by a fifty per cent unemployment rate, HIV, and lack of education and health services.

The project operates a multi-purpose day-care centre and a range of outreach services, providing education and wellbeing services to support families and children affected by HIV. The twelve programmes employ over 100 people and include a preschool, a nutrition programme, social worker team, support groups, skills development and income-generation activities, afterschool care, support for unemployed school leavers, a mobile VCT and TB-screening programme, and door-to-door outreach and counselling.

The organisation said that the most successful programme thus far has been the ‘Fit For Life, Fit For Work’ programme that aims to give young unemployed school leavers the opportunity to take stock of their life, to set goals, make healthy life choices, especially concerning their sexual and reproductive health, and to plan for their future by either getting a job, accessing tertiary or vocational studies, or by establishing small or micro enterprises.

Good Hope Volunteers said the programme has been life changing for hundreds of participants, sixty per cent of whom are young women. In the past three years, the organisation has had an eighty per cent success rate in placing graduates in paid employment, internships with stipends, or tertiary studies with a bursary. Graduates in work placements and internships are mentored for a year after their placement.

As a registered non-profit organisation, the project depends on volunteers. For the Nyanga Upliftment Project, every volunteer carries with them expertise that is needed to enhance the programme offerings. The organisation believes every moment that volunteers spend with the community brings development and growth

“The Nyanga Upliftment Project is a place of hope and inspiration, offering a great opportunity for skilling and empowerment of many ordinary people who are trying hard to survive under difficult conditions,” said Eka Esu Williams, Programme Officer of the Ford Foundation.

“It is my belief that a centre that tries to help people stand on their feet and develop a sense of pride in what they can do for themselves deserves all the support it can get.”

Volunteers assist with varied activities. Tasks could include administrative duties, kitchen duties, interacting with the children, awareness and campaign activities, housekeeping, building, painting, and more.

Volunteers are transported daily to and from the project. They work five days a week from about 09:00 to 16:00. Volunteers stay at the Good Hope Volunteers accommodation and are welcome to join all of the social activities and events planned by Good Hope Volunteers.