The Eastern Cape’s Umzi Wethu Academy for youth affected by HIV/Aids has opened its second campus at an old Somerset East school and hostel. The Cape government provided R1,5 million for the restoration of the buildings, as well as bursaries and pocket money for the first student intake. “It was a bold experiment, but the opening of the second academy – with more to follow – proves that the approach we developed, together with over 35 partners, works,” said Andrew Muir, executive director of the Wilderness Foundation of South Africa. U mzi Wethu, Xhosa for “our home”, is one of the first multidisciplinary approaches to provide support for 16- to 25-year-olds made vulnerable by HIV/Aids. It gives them the opportunity to develop careers in the ecotourism industry through a combination of conservation and hospitality training courses. The first centre was opened in Port Elizabeth in April 2006 and the project finds employment for the successful graduates. Certified training is provided by the Port Elizabeth-based African Global Skills Academy, while nature reserves in the Somerset East area have already indicated interest in employing successful candidates that come through the programme. The graduates leave with two qualifications, namely Tourism Guide: Nature, as well as a National Certificate in Conservation Resource Guardianship. – Roelof Bezuidenhout
The Eastern Cape’s Umzi Wethu Academy for youth affected by HIV/Aids has opened its second campus at an old Somerset East school and hostel.
Issue Date:16 May 2008
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