– by Kasuba Stuurman

According to Statistics South Africa, 1 in 3 people aged between 18 and 35 are not engaged in meaningful employment. Like many South African youth, Vuyokazi Gweshana found herself in the discouraging situation of unemployment. With aspirations of finding employment, she moved to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape, to pursue a better life for herself. She was raised by a single mother and grandmother. Being the oldest child, her family was dependent on her to become the breadwinner. Her reality was that she couldn’t afford to study further, so employment was her only option.


Hopelessness and disparity
When she first moved to Cape Town, she was fortunate enough to secure employment as a domestic worker for 3 years. She worked diligently, but needed to leave and go back home after she fell pregnant. Following the birth of her son in 2015, she remained unemployed for two years. During this time, she ran the risk of becoming just another statistic, thrown into the depths of hopelessness and economic disparity.

Not just another statistic
Despite her supportive family and a minimal government child grant, Vuyokazi was growing increasingly desperate to provide for her child on her own. “I don’t like asking for things, even from my family, it makes me uncomfortable,” she says as she recalls asking for even basic hygiene products. With her mother earning a minimum wage, a grandmother receiving a state grant, and three unemployed brothers, Vuyokazi decided to give the Mother City another shot.

In January 2017, she moved in with her cousin in the Joe Slovo township in Cape Town. Determined to help her find employment, her cousin encouraged Vuyokazi to go to The Zanokhanyo Network—a Cape Town based initiative that offers job readiness training and connects graduates to meaningful opportunities. Initially she dismissed the recommendation, but after seven months of fruitless job-searching, she reconsidered.  

An intensive 12-day course
As soon as she walked through the doors of the 10-year-old employment initiative, she felt the warmth and the love of the people there. She so badly wanted what they had, that it wasn’t difficult for her to decide to register for the intensive 12-day course. “Everyone was happy and smiling, even the graduates that I saw. When I told my cousin that I’d been to The Zanokhanyo Network, she said was happy that I had come to my senses.”

Christ-centred, Gospel-driven
The very next week, she begun the course and she felt so free there. They began by tackling topics of identity and emotional healing, “I learnt about integrity and being the same person no matter what situation I find myself in. What really drew me to the course was that it is Christ-centred, and Gospel-driven.” The training facilitators always encouraged the participants not to lose hope and Vuyokazi found that her faith was challenged every day.

Renewed sense of purpose
Despite being unemployed, she had a renewed sense of purpose. Hungry for more, she began counselling sessions with the resident pastor who encouraged her to rely on Christ for everything. “The pastor was genuinely concerned about me. He would always pray for my family and ask me if I needed help with anything.” She soon decided to join the Common Ground Langa fellowship where she is still actively involved with a family of growing Christ followers, “My church is very encouraging, people are willing to pray for and help one another.”

Confidence is instilled
She successfully graduated from the course on the 25th of August and – trusting God for a job – she sent out her CV to many places just like she had done many times before. The next week, she was informed of an opportunity to work in a hotel by the Opportunities Team at The Zanokhanyo Network. Without hesitation, she put herself forward, “I would never have gone for the opportunity if it wasn’t for the self-confidence I had built up through Job Readiness Course. They taught me to be comfortable to express myself and to speak. Even in front of a group of people.”  

A permanent job!
Miraculously, by the 6th of November, Vuyokazi was hired by a 5-star Cape Town boutique hotel as a housekeeper. “I was chosen out of a group of people. I didn’t know anything about a hotel, but now I have learnt how to communicate well with different people on different levels. I can prepare a room, welcome guests when the receptionists are absent, and I am even learning to help in the laundry area.” After a 6-month provisional contract, impressed by her work ethic, the hotel offered her a permanent contract.

Life is now wonderful
“Now that I am working, my life has changed, and I am no longer looking down on myself. I was so happy and relieved to find employment and now I am able to help my family that took very good care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself.”

Who is the Zanokhanyo Network?
The Zanokhanyo Network (TZN) is an initiative of Common Good—a non-profit organisation that creates opportunities for those marginalised by poverty and injustice, to reach their full, God-given potential. The job readiness course offers holistic training that restores dignity and confidence by equipping under- and unemployed individuals from all walks life with the necessary skills to secure meaningful employment. They also instil a sense of imminent possibility – working alongside graduates to connect them to opportunities, including internships, further studies, and formal employment.

Register today!
TZN offers training at their central hub and various access points across Cape Town. There are no entry requirements for the course, other than basic literacy in English, which is the medium of instruction. There is a small free of R100 to register. Please contact TZN on 021 531 0655 or WhatsApp 063 014 8514 to sign up for the course. If you are interested in sponsoring participants, providing opportunities or hiring graduates, please see further details online at www.tzn.org.za

Article source: JOY! Magazine (November 2018)

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