I visited our Social Auxiliary Worker (SAW) training programme at Greenfarm in the district of Malamulele, 40 kilometres from Thohoyandou. Whilst there, I went to see some of the different workplaces of our SAW learners. I was interested in finding out how they were getting on, if they considered they were getting good value from their training, whether they had any particular problems – and how they rated their prospects for their forthcoming First Cycle exams on Modules 1–3 from 10th to 12th August 2011. Of interest, too, was how the training was going from a teaching perspective and whether any enhancements or changes of approach were needed.

The D G Murray Trust (a Public Benefit Organisation) responded to an NGO in Malamulele, who asked for help in training Social Auxiliary Workers (SAWs). Trust funding enabled 20 enthusiastic men and women to embark on a journey to become professionally qualified Social Auxiliary Workers, through attendance at a CEFA training course – classroom theory backed by practical field application, tailored to their needs and the needs of the communities they serve.

These twenty unemployed learners from poor villages are attending this SAW training programme, under the auspices of Community Health Development Project (CHDP) – in partnership with the Department of Social Development (DoSD). CHDP is a Non-Profit Organisation based at Greenfarm, whose focus is on job creation and community services. Mr Hasani Simon Sithole, CEO of CHDP, initiated this training project through funding allocated by DGMT – who identified CEFA as training provider. DoSD Social Workers are mentoring the learners in a ratio of 1, 2 or 3 learners to each mentor. The Programme Facilitators are Ms Ivy Sikwane, who is Tsonga speaking, and Ms Monica Myburg, who has three years’ SAW training experience with CEFA. The twenty Tsonga speaking learners are attending from as far afield as Mhinga and Ximixoni, about 12km from the Punda Maria gate of the Kruger National Park. Although this is only some 40 km from Greenfarm, the rural nature of the workplace sites poses travel challenges, as public transport is very limited on these routes.

I found an enthusiastic group of learners, grateful for the opportunity both to move on up in life and to be of value to their communities. To help further overcome their lack of familiarity with English (the language of the training programme and its material), a Tsonga speaking invigilator, with background knowledge of CEFA’s training, will be utilised during the formative assessment opportunities. This will enable learners to ask for translation of questions into Tsonga in the examination papers if they do not understand the English terminology. Their other concern is over the distances and costs of travel – and this CHDP is discussing with the learners’ sponsors. With my visit to the workplaces I found limited office space, but an openness on the part of the Social Workers to include the learners in their daily responsibilities – where this fits within the scope of the SAW responsibilities.

This field trip visit showed that another SAW training programme is heading in the right direction. We will be visiting these learners again to see how they have fared with their Cycle 1 exams – and how they are progressing with Cycle 2. We are looking forward to the next step in helping this group in their reaching out to a better life for all.

CEFA facilitators hard at work
Rosaline Claasens (a CEFA facilitator) hard at work during the opening of the Limpopo SAW learnership training on 8 February 2011.

Meeting the role-players of the Limpopo SAW project
Liezl van der Westhuizen (Operations Manager, CEFA) here with the CEO of the NGO (Hasani Sithole), Rosaline Claasens (CEFA facilitator) and Ivy Sikwane (a CEFA director and lead coach to the project).

SAW training, Malamulele
Social Auxiliary Work training started on 8 February 2011 at the NGO building, Greenfarm, Malamulele. The information board outside the NGO can be seen on the picture attached.