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Flame of opportunity burns bright for young people

Written by Dale Hes

Established by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2003, Working on Fire (WoF) has grown into one of the flagship job creation programmes in South Africa. The Working on Fire Programme grows lives and protect our environment.

The organisation started with 850 firefighters and now has over 5 000 participants working from over 200 bases across the country. Of these participants, 94 percent are youth and 31 percent are women.

WoF’s impact spreads well beyond providing part-time jobs, believes Managing Director Trevor Abrahams.

“In the past 17 years WoF has served as a stepping stone for thousands of South African youth from disadvantaged areas. These youth have, through the WoF skills development project, secured permanent work opportunities in the South African Police Service, South African National Defence Force and nature conservation agencies, to name just a few,” he says. WoF participants are given the opportunity to grow within the programme, from firefighters to crew leaders and base managers to regional managers. They are also given the chance to undergo further training in fields such as finance, human resources, office administration, health and safety and communications.

Phumza Dyantyi, who grew up in a disadvantaged household in Keiskammahoek, has seen the impact of the programme in her life. She started as a firefighter and is today general manager of the Eastern Cape branch of the organisation.

“I first heard about WoF from our ward councillor. In 2004 I went for the interview to become a firefighter and I passed  the selection test. Since then, it has been a life-changing journey.”

“WoF gave me the chance to study project management and finance. It trained me in various things, such as computer skills and negotiation skills, and later it even gave me the opportunity to attend the University of Cape Town to study operations management and compliance management.

“I was able to build a house for my children and one of my daughters has graduated from university, while the other is doing her first year, all thanks to WoF.”

For more information about WOF call:

  • North West 087 352 4812
  • Free State 051 4512365
  • Western Cape 021 532 1516
  • Limpopo 015 590 1530
  • Gauteng 011 314 0254
  • Mpumalanga 013 752 4172
  • KwaZulu-Natal 033 330 7715
  • Eastern Cape 043 555 0426