Umtha Wemfundo graduation day

Amanda Boqwana graduated and received a certificate from Fungile Bulawa.

Excitement and joy were all over the faces of 51 students as they were called to the stage to receive their
certificates when Umtha Wemfundo held a graduation ceremony in Site B on Saturday June 8.

Various community stakeholders and community leaders gathered the glitzy event at Andile Msizi hall as the students graduated after an intensive four-month computer training programme. Among the students were youth, people living with disabilities and senior citizens and were over the moon about their achievement. Words of wisdom and encouragement were conveyed to the students to praise them for uplifting themselves.

Various speakers told the graduates that they should never stop equipping themselves with skills, knowledge and information so that they could boost their chances of employment.

Umtha Wemfundo provides computer training for free to people with disabilities.

The organisation’s founder, Ntomboxolo Sithonga, said the organisation started operating at the beginning of this year and this was their first graduation.

She was excited that despite endless challenges, the organisation was going strong.

With a broad smile, Ms Sithonga said they aimed to make a difference in the lives of people in Khayelitsha and surrounds.

With many people being computer illiterate, she believed it was their duty to empower people with these critical and life-changing skills.

She said a number of companies required people to have computer skills and people should continue to improve their skill set to meet the ever-changing employment criteria.

Asked about their challenges, Ms Sithonga quickly said it was funding. The organisation charges students a small fee to cover some daily operating costs and a stipend for their facilitators.

Like any new organisation, she said she feared that people might be sceptical about their services.

However, she said people were welcoming and had rallied behind them.

“We want to make difference in our community. Yes, we need money to sustain the organisation but what is joyful to us is how people feel about us. We want
to grow this organisation. We want to restore people’s dignity. The future of these graduates now looks brighter than ever.
We want to be a beacon of hope. But we are preaching that there is no age limit for education,” she said.

Ms Sithonga said soon they would be opening their second branch at Nonkqubela Ink Mall and has indicated that they would hire their own students to become facilitators and teachers.

Amanda Boqwana said she was extremely excited as this was the first time in her life that she graduated. The 25-year-old, who also works for the organisation, said what made her more excited was the fact that the organisation is paying her fees for the Oxbridge Academy Online Learning 12-month computer literacy course. She said she was not doing anything for a year but now she feels excited about how things are turning out for her.

Ms Boqwana said she hoped to see herself running her franchise from the organisation and giving opportunities to other young people in the township.

President of My Ability is Stronger than My Disability, Princess Nobantande Sitimela, said people living disabilities were battling to study up to the level where they graduate and opportunities for them were limited. But, she said, she was extremely excited that the organisation was playing its part in empowering them and ensuring that they were not left out.