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Archive for October, 2010

I headed out to Zululand early this morning, accompanied by soft rain. We haven’t seen a lot of rain lately, so it’s always welcome; especially where I was heading – rain has been scarce and the land is parched. I met Kate in Empangeni to pick up Sinothile and Sthabiso, the first official students of I Learn to Live. It was a bitter-sweet start for Sinothile as sadly her mother passed on yesterday and will not be on this journey with her daughter. I know that she must have been incredibly comforted by the fact that Sinothile is being given the opportunity to study further and undoubtedly change the course of her life forever.

Sthabiso & Stix at the Career Centre

I took the girls to the Richards Bay Career Centre; an amazing set up which gives students the opportunity to participate in an interactive journey of career exploration. We began with a workbook session and the girls had to fill in sections which enabled them to explore the following:

○ What kind of a person am I?

○ The value of being me.

○ What would I like to do?

○ What can I do?

The students are given a series of questions which relate to various personality types. These categories were introduced by psychologist John Holland who defined what are called “Holland Codes” – very basically these codes refer to six personality types “described in a theory of careers and vocational choice”. The premise of this theory is that the type of vocation which one chooses is an expression of one’s personality. So the six codes are used to “describe both persons and work environments”.

Once the girls tallied up their scores, they were able to pinpoint their three main personality types; amazingly, both girls were Enterprising, Social and Investigative. Freddy, the facilitator, was quite amazed as he’d never had two people write the test together, both unknown to each other, and have the exact same personality types. However, it was soon evident that the girls were interested in very different career paths. Sinothile was keen to explore a career in nursing or in tourism. I had a mini heart attack as nursing is not offered at the FET College. I called the local University to find out the first year fees and was quite taken aback by the cost of first year, which is approximately R20 000, and this is before you add on transport fees, food stipends, books, etc. Luckily, the idea of studying for 4 years was quite off-putting and Sinothile decided on studying Tourism. Stha opted for hospitality and I couldn’t think of a better field of study, and ultimately work, for this vibrant young woman.

Both girls have applied for bursaries which are offered by the college and will have to work hard to prove that they are worthy of receiving one. Bursaries are offered according to a number of criteria – the first being a financial means test, and obviously our girls are not financially able to support themselves so they qualify on this point. The girls must also prove that they are doing their best academically; government has spent nearly 1 billion Rand on bursaries and FET colleges have experienced a nearly 80% drop out rate. Drop out rates are influenced by a number of factors, such as incorrect academic streaming. This is why the career test and placement test and counselling are so important prior to students applying for a course.

So, the easy part is now over, the exciting yet daunting part is about to begin. I’m coming up with some very creative fundraising and sponsorship ideas. While financial assistance is always top priority, we also need ambassadors for I Learn to Live; people who actively share our story and create awareness and support, and we need mentors – people who are willing to give up some time to encourage and support students. In fact, we welcome ANY support and assistance that you can offer.

A huge thanks to the wonderful team up at the Umfolozi College and Career Centre in Richards Bay; Natasha, Mark and Freddy. You guys are fantastic and I really appreciate how you’ve supported and assisted I Learn to Live.

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Once a month a small group of unlikely writers get together to share a story or two. Only one of us can actually claim to be a writer (and it’s not me!), yet we find ourselves excitedly deciding on the next months topic and using the opportuntiy to let our creative synapses crackle and pop into life. Friday night saw us sitting around a fire and regaling each other with alternative fairy tales aided with healthy amounts of red wine.

The definition  of a fairy tale is an interesting but highly implausible story. So I thought, what could be better than to weave a tale around South Africa’s most (currently)  infamous character, Julius Malema, or as he is affectionately know: Juju. I hope you are all abreast of current SA politics!

 Photo from Juju’s blog

Juju & the Magic Mine

Juju was not impressed. Things were not going as he had hoped. Not only had he been publicly told off, like a naughty school boy, by the Prez and now Vavi, that “political hyena”, was trying to have him charged for ill-discipline. All of this negativity was not doing Juju’s morale any good. How was one supposed to nationalise a mine when one’s mind was being railroaded by comrades who were acting in a very uncomrade-like manner.

Juju was jolted out of his reverie by a knock at his door. “Yes, what do you want?” he bellowed through the closed door. “It is me comrade,” shouted Shivambu, “let me in, I have excellent news!” Juju heaved his great girth out of his chair and let Shivambu in. “It better be good Bu, I am having a very bad day.” “Oh it is comrade, I will reveal all, but first, I need a drink.” Shivambu helped himself to a tumbler of Jonnie Walker Blue and added a sliver of ice.

“Out with it Bu, I do not have all day!” yelled Juju. “Comrade, you will not believe what I am about to tell you, but it is true! I found us a mine! A mine which we can nationalise effective immediately!”.  “How is that possible Bu?” said Juju. “We have not even managed to convince the elders that nationalisation is the way to go.” “Well,” said Shivambu gleefully, “today I met a very stupid boer. This boer is selling his farm and on his farm is a mine which he says has not been worked for decades. He says his father was a miner but when his father died, the boer decided that mining was not for him. So he shut down the mine, laid off the workers, and farms cattle instead. He is now tired of farming and wants to retire in Orania with the rest of those crazy Boers. He says we can have his mine but we must buy his farm and all of his cattle. His farm is magnificent and is many hectares wide. It is like a small country all on its own.”

Juju suddenly sat up very straight. “A small country, you say Bu! Not a farm, but a country. I would like my own country; I would like a country of my very own.” Shivambu was about to comment that the farm was maybe not quite as magnificent or as big as he’d made out but Juju seemed to have forgotten that Bu was even in the room. Juju was in dreamland. He was imagining this country of his, with its nationalised mines and its rivers which flowed with Jonnie Walker Blue. He saw himself walking down the steps of his huge mansion towards his shiny red Lamborghini Reventon. Bu, his trusted and deserving side kick, was holding the door open for Juju to climb in. It was time for Juju to meet his people.

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