Written by: The Sozo Foundation

Life in post-apartheid South Africa sees Vrygrond – one of the oldest informal settlements in the Cape – desperately overcrowded and under resourced. It is a one square kilometre home to 45 000 residents with no high school, no police station, and no clinic. Every day young people battle the dangers of crime, violence, addiction, abuse, and gangsterism.

Breaking cycles of poverty
In the midst of these challenges stands The Sozo Centre – a facility and skilled team bringing hope by creating pathways to employment through education, skills, and social enterprise. Many of these young people become the only breadwinners in their household, and most of them are first generation graduates in their families. Generational cycles of poverty, rejection, and neglect are broken.

Jesus is the foundation
The golden strand that weaves itself though every member of the Sozo tribe is the unconditional love of Jesus, which they embody. It is the highest value in every training, tutoring, and lifeskill session – transforming lives from the inside out. Against all odds, the script for thousands of young people is rewritten when they encounter the truth that in this tribe, “You belong and you are loved”.

A testimony of hope
Tracey Mungofa is a happy, bubbly, young lady. Having completed her matric in Zimbabwe, she relocated to Cape Town in 2014 and settled in the community of Vrygrond with her mom. After finding out about the Sozo Youth Café based in Vrygrond, Tracey decided to sign up. She successfully completed the first month of the programme, which includes the Heartlife programme. Heartlife helped to unlock Tracey’s potential, dreams, and purpose. Other life skills addressed in the first month include dealing with conflict, social issues, domestic abuse, health issues, teamwork, leadership, and personal finances.  

Developing a passion
Upon completing a month of life skills training, Tracey had to decide which of the six different vocational skills training courses she would choose to complete: Hair and beauty, Construction, Graphic Design, Artisan baking, General Education Diploma, or Coffee Barista.
“At first I was not sure which one to take, so I ended up going for Barista – which I think was the right decision,” Tracey told us. The warm and welcoming atmosphere at Sozo gave her a sense of belonging. She found it empowering to share her journey with other students because she felt safe to be vulnerable. Tracey felt a connection with the other students as they shared their own life stories and challenges. She was motivated to work and achieve alongside her fellow Barista students, and developed a hunger to get to know the espresso machine.

Investing in her skills
Tracey says, “The Sozo Youth Café is a unique place – the environment feels like you are in a different city”. The Sozo Barista training is interactive and focuses on crucial skills that students require to build confidence in their ability to produce restaurant-quality coffee. Tracey learnt about the history of coffee, the different coffee regions around the world, different types of beans, and the harvesting and roasting processes. She had the opportunity to visit a variety of coffee roasters in Cape Town, giving her valued insight into bean sourcing and roasting processes. Tracey learnt how to perfect the art of pouring the perfect espresso, texture milk, create latte art, as well as how to set grinders, serve customers, and keep the coffee equipment safe and healthy for everyone. 

Upskilling and growing
Tracey received on-the-job training at Sozo’s various local coffee shop partners including Knead, Joon Coffee, Lorenzo Marx, and Xpressions on the Beach. Sozo also helped her to develop her CV and gave her some interview preparation training.
“I knew that this opportunity would transform me for good,” said Tracey, who is now a qualified Barista and was employed by Lorenzo Marx and as Head Barista. Lorenzo Marx is also training Tracey to be a chef.

Quality, not quantity
“I have a monthly salary, I moved out of my mom’s house, and I now stay on my own,” says Tracey excitedly. “One year back I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, now I’m standing among the big people.” She believes that the Youth Café skills training course gave her hope, enabling her to have a clear path in life. Tracy continues to grow her skills as a Barista and believes there is always more to learn. Sh e lives by the language of coffee, saying, “It is about quality, not quantity.”

Get in contact!

Mergon Sozo

Tracey is one of the many beautiful people who Sozo has upskilled. To learn more about this organisation, please visit www.thesozofoundation.org.za 

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