As we reflect on 2008, we are thankful for people like these who have been provided job training and hope for the future through the Learn To Earn project in South Africa. Thank you for helping make these success stories possible!
After graduating in June 2007 from LtE’s Woodwork school, Mandla was placed as a skilled labourer at a furniture making company, but his contract was not renewed. He approached his ex-employer at Harrie’s Pancakes at the V&A Waterfront and was welcomed back. One day, a Robben Island ferry manager approached Mandla enquiring about a black-owned catering business. Mandla grabbed the opportunity even though he was inexperienced and soon registered “Mandla’s Catering.” He has been making 50 sandwiches with various fillings which sell out everyday.
“When this opportunity presented itself, I called Mr. Les (LtE’s Woodwork trainer) for advice and I have returned to talk to him many times. I have bought a car, extended the family house in the Eastern Cape and am about to employ my first sandwich maker. My immediate challenge is to design a logo and packaging for my business, and I know that LtE can assist me with this too! The Business Skills training has held me in good stead as I do not do anything in the line of carpentry but I do know how to make my own furniture should the need arise,” says Mandla.
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“I left home because my step-father mistreated me as I was not his flesh and blood. I lived with my brother in Khayelitsha in 1999 but he didn’t treat me respectfully either because he resented having to support me financially. Until I registered for a sewing course at LtE in 2007, I was unemployed and dependent on my brother.
Despite finding the training really difficult, I graduated in September 2007 and joined the Zakhele location. I have since learned to sew differently designed garments like handbags and skirts and I earn good money. I have moved into my own house and am independent but help my brother when he needs it while supporting my younger siblings. I enjoy working with my hands so I shall continue to save up for my own business. My life is so different from just over a year ago and it is all because God never forgot about me.
The other courses at LtE were beneficial because the more I was loved by the staff, the better my life choices were and now I am hopeful for my future.”
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During their ten week training at LtE, Nompucuko and her peers were taken on an excursion to visit three different corporate companies. After completing her training with LtE, Nompucuko contacted those companies and requested a week of job-shadowing at each company as she had no office work experience; she was a merchandiser before her LtE training. While at UCS Solutions, she heard about a receptionist vacancy and applied to fill the post. She was ecstatic to hear that of the three short-listed candidates, she was offered the position for six months. Her role includes managing a very busy switchboard, walk-in clients, the booking of seven meeting rooms and is now learning to make travel arrangements for staff.
“It was hard when my husband was the only breadwinner in the home. Now I am able to relieve the load of our expenses. God has truly blessed us,” says Nompucuko.
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“When I started my training at LtE, I was unpleasantly surprised to find that I had to do Life Skills training – I hoped that I could get out of it. However, I started to appreciate this training because my personal life was in a mess and I was taught to manage my situation and my life. In all of my previous training experiences, no one had been interested in my personal life. LtE was amazingly different.”
About working in Zakhele, she said,
“Dreams don’t come true overnight. First I had to settle my debts with my pay, but now I have expanded my shack, bought couches for the lounge, my son’s school fees are paid every month, and my family has a good meal daily. Every day I see improvements in my sewing and I feel that I am ready to open my own fashion design business in 2009.” She has been saving to buy a sewing machine. “I like being at LtE because I have no transport costs as the campus is within walking distance from my home, I have new friends, and I am at peace when I am here.”