In South Africa, the month of June is known as “Youth Month”. This is in commemoration of the 16 June 1976 uprising in Sharpeville that made an indelible mark on the political landscape of the country. This year, Youth Month will be commemorated under the theme, "Together We Can Do More to Build Infrastructure and Fight Youth Unemployment, Poverty and Inequality".
Hundreds of Transnet employees showed their support of Youth Month by visiting three communities across the country in a “community blitz” yesterday as part of their pioneering Employee Volunteer Programme (EVP). Transnet employees in Johannesburg visited a district in Diepsloot where they worked with the community in planting 2000 various vegetable seedlings, setting up three 10 000 liters Jojo Water Tanks for the sustainability of the garden and hosting various Orientation classes for the new members of the School Governing Body of Diepsloot Primary School. Given the prevailing food insecurity in the Diepsloot area, many learners come to school hungry. This garden will therefor contribute significantly to the enrichment and nutritional value of the food served through the school's Nutrition Feeding Scheme.
This initiative is part of the overall Employee Volunteer Programme campaign that aims to bring opportunities for empowerment and skills transfer to traditionally underprivileged communities. Through this programme, which is a first for South Africa, Transnet aims to become more than just a freight carrier but a transformation organisation in infrastructure development, job creation and skills development.
In partnership with the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town, Transnet has set up the project and trained its coordinators in three identified locations, termed ‘villages’ in the programme, across South Africa, namely Diepsloot in Gauteng, Motherwell in Port Elizabeth and Inanda outside of Durban.
Transnet Foundation has undertaken a comprehensive environmental analysis of the selected ‘villages’, focusing on demographics, poverty and employment levels, community institutions and structures and unique characteristics. Such studies formed the baseline against which the EVP was planned, implemented and measured. While the developmental needs of most underprivileged communities are extremely broad, spanning education, health, infrastructure and far more, the Transnet Foundation believes that the vast wealth of skills found within the ranks of its employees offers a match for all requirements. With engineers to trades people as staff, Transnet has a significant number of skills which the members of its selected villages can tap into.
“We have a wealth of skills and knowledge to share, and the EVP will be an opportunity for Transnet to build a vibrant culture of giving amongst our employees and stakeholders,” says Susie Mabie, Senior Manager at Transnet Foundation at the blitz. “We pride ourselves on our holistic, ‘village’ approach, hence its name ‘Transnet Volunteers for Villages’. It was inspired by the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” meaning that if a child is to be raised to become a self-sufficient adult, the full support of the entire local community is needed, drawing on all the material and human resources it has to offer,” Mabie adds.
In support of the programme, Transnet will be giving employees’ time off during working hours to perform their volunteering duties. Skills to be shared include financial management, business administration, project management, engineering and technical skills, marketing and communications, human resources and computer skills, amongst others. In addition, volunteers may participate in community building projects, or blitz’s such as yesterday’s, which includes adult basic education, infrastructure development and skills support at schools.
The youth in these Transnet Villages are a major focus of the programme, and are set to receive a significant skills boost from Transnet employees, providing essential knowledge and development required for enabling them to escape the poverty cycle and create productive and sustainable futures for themselves.
“The youth are fundamental for our country’s successful future. Without them, we have nothing. Transnet Foundation wants to be a part of assisting the leaders of tomorrow reach their dreams. We believe through Transnet Foundation EVP this can be achieved,” states Cynthia Mgijima, Transnet Foundation Head. Youth Day takes place on the 16th June every year and commemorates the day when high-school students in Soweto started protesting for better education on this day in 1976. It is now a South African national holiday and honours all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against Apartheid and Bantu Education.