NGO empowers young and old with skills

The excited graduates were pleased to have completed their training and their future now looks bright.

A love for sewing and making clothes runs deep in the veins of Kulakazi Mekeni, with her mother being a well-known dressmaker in Khayelitsha.

The-35-year-old was one of 53 women and men who graduated from the Zenzele Training and Development organisation in Khayelitsha, on Friday September1.

The graduates completed an intensive two-month training course in either sewing, welding or woodwork.

Excitement filled the air as each graduate showed off their work.

Ms Mekeni said she hated the idea of having a boss and always wanted to do things for herself. She said she developed an interest in sewing from her mother who m she would watch making clothes.

Some of the clothes she wore as a child were made by her mother, and Ms Mekeni knew that one day she would wear something she made herself.

Ms Mekeni said while she began learning basic sewing skills from observing her mother, she knew that she needed to have a formal qualification that would boost her confidence and equip her with more skills.

Before the sewing course, she studied beauty therapy but realised that it was not her calling.

In July she decided to enrol at the Zenzele Training and Development organisation.

She said the course also equipped her with business skills.

Ms Mekeni said she intended to start her own business and work with her mother.

She said when she enrolled for the courses she thought that they were only going to be taught how to stitch clothes. But they were also taught how to conceptualise the idea of making clothes and the processes involved.

“I feel empowered, and now I look at life from a different perspective,” she said.

“I also aim to have an organisation like this so that I can transfer the skills that I have acquired to other people. As young people we need to equip ourselves with every skill so that we can be employable and be job creators.”

Miriam Vani, an instructor at Zenzele, said the training provided participants with much needed skills and tools to become bread winners and better their employment prospects.

She said Zenzele aimed to ensure that young and old people had skills despite their level of education. Ms Vani said it filled her heart with joy when participants got their certificates.

However, she said the organisation faced a bleak future because of a lack of funding.

“We used to have a branch in the Eastern Cape but it was closed due to lack of funds. People need to get out of their homes and acquire skills. We need to urge people be job creators instead of being job-seekers,” she said.