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YES to a greener world

Written by Jauhara Khan

The North West’s Paul Borokelo says that, even when he is dressed well, he still picks up waste from the street because caring for the environment is a cause close to his heart.Paul Borokelo is creating a greener community in Koster, North West Province, through the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Youth Environmental Services (YES) Programme.

Borokelo (30) from Koster in Kgetlengrivier Municipality, recently graduated from the Youth Environmental Services (YES) Programme with a National Diploma in Environmental Education, Training and Development Practice.

“People say I’m crazy for still cleaning up when I’m “dressed to kill”. But it’s what I do. I want to take care of the environment and live in a place that is clean, ,” said Borokelo.

The YES programme, an initiative of the Department of Environmental Affairs’ aims to create job creation, small business and skills development opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

Twenty-eight candidates including Borokelo participated in the programme during 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, and were awarded the diploma from the Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) SETA, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs, Delta Environment Centre, and the University of South Africa (UNISA).  A further 120 participants graduated from the skills programme with 147 credits, and were awarded certificates of attendance.

Borokelo, who works as a general worker at SAPS Koster, joined the Yes Progamme in 2015, completing a certificate on the skills programme. He enrolled for the diploma course in 2016.

“I wanted to study but I didn’t have enough information or resources to do so. But I have a great love for the environment and our impact on it, so I jumped at the chance to join the programme,” Borokelo said.

Gaining the diploma was challenging but a good learning experience.

“We had to create business plans to open a waste recycling centre. It was tough but we wanted to make a difference,” said Borokelo.

Borokelo spent time educating the community on how and where to recycle waste material and identifying which waste material they could make money from. He also taught people how to manage their own waste production to minimise dumping on street corners.

“Through the programme we started gardens in schools and local community centres, teaching the community how to use gardens for food and to make money. We received a lot of positive support from the community,” said Borokelo.

Participants were also involved in environmental surveys, waste sorting, educational campaigns, tree planting, school cleaning, and implementing environmental days.

During the programme, Borokelo was also given the opportunity to teach environmental awareness at a local school. This led him to find another passion in teaching, and he is currently enrolled to study education in the foundation phase. He wants to teach Natural Science when his studies are complete.

“I believe we have to start teaching people about caring for the places we live in and the world from a young age,” said Borokelo.

Borokelo said the YES Programme has opened doors for its participants.

“It has been one of the best things that has ever happened in our lives. Many of us on the programme never expected to wear gowns and caps at a graduation one day. With the diploma we have the opportunity to go further into a career in the environment. Many of us are employed at schools, too. It has changed things for many of us.”

So far the YES programme has recruited 134 young people, mostly women and people living with disabilities, who have been exposed to personal development, accredited training and exit opportunities, while delivering environmental services that benefit their communities.

For more information on the Yes programme call the Department of Environmental Affairs call centre: 086 111 2468