The Transnet Foundation Orphaned Youth Education Development Programme, one of the services offered by the Transnet Foundation, is giving hope to vulnerable and orphaned high school children.
The programme currently helps 10 Grade 11 learners, who attend fiveday life skills workshops twice a year, and 20 Grade 8 learners, who attend three life skills camps in a year.
Each programme is suited to the needs of the young people. Topics covered range from dealing with one’s past to the use of social media and financial management.
“Camps allow kids to experience family life and support and care for one another. They are taught how to use the skills learned at the camp, constructively,” said Theresa Moila, the Senior Manager for Education at Transnet.
Learners are selected from different schools by Transnet and go through an application process that includes an interview with the Transnet board.
The learners are those who are orphaned, top performers and have good testimonials from teachers or community leaders.
These children are also adopted by families who take care of their day-to-day needs.
“We have what we call Transnet parents, who adopt a kid and looks after them as their own,” added Moila.
Once they complete high school, Transnet grants them bursaries to study further and after completing their studies, they have the option to work at Transnet.
Happiness Zulu, a Grade 8 learner, who is part of the programme, enjoys the camps.
“I am taught a lot of skills that I can use in my life and also Transnet is like my family, I enjoy being around the other kids,” she said.
Tswelopele Molema, a Grade 11 learner, said the camp helped him to become a confident person.
“The camp has allowed me to grow as an individual and has taught me how to overcome challenges in my life.”
Happy Ndime, who is also part of the programme, said her experience has been exciting.
“I’m now at a school with a proper education system and my future looks very bright. The life skills camps are very eye opening and they prepare us for the challenges in the real world. Above everything, our family bond is very special. We stand up for each other and we don’t try to be better than one another, instead we encourage each other to do the best we can be.”
Sibusiso Ngomane, Senior Manager of Communications and Special Projects at Transnet Foundation, said the camps offered the youngsters the chance to develop their talents.
“At the Foundation, we realise that talent is not the only factor that determines whether our youth achieve success, but the opportunities to develop their talent and to be discovered also heavily weigh in. For without these opportunities, the journey from grassroots to glory is unlikely to happen. This is the case for many talented young people in the rural and underprivileged areas.
“We are very proud of the impact the programme has had, primarily with the knowledge that investment in youth carries far much significance as they are the future of the country,” he said.