SOUTH AFRICA: Waves of Change Project Connects Disadvantaged Youth to Stable Employment in the Fishing Industry
(MissionNewswire) Poverty is extensive in South Africa with more than 45 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. A significant percentage of the population struggles to survive on less than one dollar a day. South Africa is plagued by high crime rates and violence against women and girls and is the country hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS crisis in the world. There is an urgent need for education to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus and to help lift youth out of poverty.
For many years, Salesian missionaries have been working to bring hope, particularly to poor youth in South Africa. From empowering girls and young women to building schools and teaching trade skills, Salesian missionaries have a long history of affecting change in the country.
Since 1910, the Salesian Institute in Cape Town, the second most populous city and legislative capital of South Africa, has been helping homeless, unemployed and impoverished youth. Through the Institute’s Youth Projects program, Salesian missionaries provide shelter, education and workforce development services in an effort to meet the basic needs of the youth they serve while helping them break the cycle of poverty.
For the last four years, one of the Salesian Institute’s Youth Projects called the Waves of Change has been assisting unemployed youth in finding work in the fishing industry. Requiring minimal levels of education, jobs in the fishing industry can provide a significant income, a stable career path and extensive travel opportunities for poor youth. Some youth employed through the project have had the opportunity to travel as far as Antarctica.
“The fishing industry offers youth who may not have had the opportunity for extensive education to find a long-term stable career path in a field they might not otherwise have access to,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The Waves of Change project is able to offer high-quality employees to the fishing industry while providing its students meaningful employment.”
The Waves of Change project offers a compulsory five-day life skills course after which, students who successfully complete the course are awarded financial assistance towards obtaining the required certification for work in the fishing industry through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). During the 2013 school year, more than 300 youth received education and life skills training through this program. Nearly 75 percent have already been placed into jobs within the fishing industry.
Recently, Salesian missionaries who oversee the project have been able to establish partnerships with training providers such as STC Table Bay, the Academy of Maritime Medicine and Pulse College, all of which offer free training and assistance to Salesian students. In addition, missionaries have continued to nurture long standing partnerships with Sea Harvest, Premier Fishing, the Oceana Group and others that hire graduates of the project.
“Partnerships with employers are a critical part of the Waves of Change project in order to help youth make a smooth transition from the classroom into the workforce,” adds Fr. Hyde.
The Salesian Institute’s Youth Projects consist of five main programs that include the Waves of Change project. In addition, the Institute provides an outreach program, a hostel for homeless youth, a learn-to-live education program and two workforce development programs. The projects are managed by a diverse group of individuals, some of whom live on the premises to support youth in the hostel and outreach programs.
UNICEF – South Africa