Empowering me to take responsibility for the mistakes I made and to grow from there to where I am today; employed, a husband and a father taking care of my family


“I made many mistakes in my life and I can associate with others that make the same mistakes. I had low self-esteem and I thought that is just how it is going to be and I have to accept how I am. In 2011, I was unemployed, I wanted to work and study part-time. I learned about the programme and at Fit for Life, Fit for Work I learned about coping with life and my own life situation. We also learned about sexual reproductive health and risk. They shared about how to use a condom and they encouraged the students to find out their HIV status. They also trained us on the difference between HIV and AIDS and shared how those that were infected with HIV/AIDS could learn to live a full life despite the disease. 

The students learned how to create an email and how to use the internet, and other programmes such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint. I was very good in the computer class and that helped me in seeking a job. Myself, I have been lucky. Today I work at the tribal authority, I have my own family, my own place and I take responsibility for myself. I have three children—two sons and a daughter. I am not married to the mother of my first-born, but I am still involved in his life and my boy is happy. Today I live at home with my wife and my other two children. I also bought my own car.

This is a good programme, more than half the graduates go on to further their studies and Fit for Life, Fit for Work help with the registration costs. The others are assisted in finding jobs or learnerships such as firefighters. The programme improved a lot over the years. It will be good if others could also join the programme. Many are struggling financially. Parents are struggling to put money aside for their children to go to school. There is enough space and the programme can easily host more people. Maybe 30 or 40 learners could do the programme at the same time. It will help them as it helped me.” 

Secretary, The Valoyi Traditional Authority Trust (TVTAT), FLFW graduate, 2012, Valoyi, Nwamitwa, Limpopo, South Africa




Phuti Cindy Mabulela

Empowering me to become a fieldworker with Wits focussing on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) and continuing my dream of becoming a social worker


“I was studying social work from home. As a second-year student I knew what to expect from my studies and I wanted to find work. I did not know where to start looking for a job. A friend of my mother told us about a Fit for Life, Fit for Work programme, and I applied. During the first week we learned about goalsetting. This was followed by sessions about sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as well as personal finances. The SRHR facilitator was great and she enhanced our understanding and knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and she was very open.

After the life skills modules we also did modules on career readiness. What we learned we can apply in our everyday lives. It is all about how we conduct ourselves in the workplace, what to do and not to do and emotional intelligence. Although many of the other students have not worked on computers before, I was at least more familiar with computers as I’ve used them before. I could focus on improving my skills. We did our life skills in the mornings and then the computer sessions in the afternoons throughout the course in order to help us have more time improving our skills. 

When we graduated our class, we all went on an outing to Zoo Lake to celebrate. For a year after our graduation we were all on a WhatsApp support group so that we stay connected and have access to people that could guide us. The FLFW Team posts news on job openings, opportunities to gain experience or bursaries for studies. We also share if we are successful in our job applications or applications for further education. 

I was successful in my application for a job. Today, I am a fulltime fieldworker for the Wits team that focus prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). The programme impacted my life positively because what I learned is making a big difference in my work environment. I also receive a salary. It changed the way I look at things. I also don’t take my work lightly; I am more committed. I am going to continue my work at Wits and will complete my studies. I do want to be a social worker.”  

Fieldworker, Wits PMTCT, FLFW graduate, 2018, WITS, Hillbrow, Gauteng, South Africa



Sicelo Mayane

Empowering me to assist children that fall behind in class or who may not be ‘seen’ for who they can become


“At FLFW we learned about communication, entrepreneurship, self-development and computer literacy. I was selected to attend the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Youth Summit. After that there was an opportunity to become a Teacher’s assistant. I applied and I was successful. I receive a stipend each month while I gain experience.   

My role is to help the teacher, to observe the learners and to see who I can assist. Some say the children are slow, but they face so many challenges. Some of them do not even have books. They may be struggling with subtractions or addition. If you simplify it for them and use examples like ‘two apples’ etc., they are then able to do the sums and catch up with the class. It just takes somebody to do it. They need somebody to motivate them. With a bit of support and encouragement they can do so much better. If I look at my own life and how I have more confidence and goals after the Fit for Life programme, I know, if I give the same encouragement and support and guidance to the learners at school, they could also achieve so much more. 

Children should not be left behind because they are slower than other children in class. We don’t know what they face when they go home. They are stronger than we think, they still come to school. We need to keep them in school and make sure they do not drop out. 

I now know what I want to do with my life. I want to help children that are battling at school. In 2020 I am going to apply to study teaching.” 

Teacher’s Assistant, Liwa Primary School, FLFW graduate, 2018, Etafeni, Nyanga, Western Cape, South Africa



Onezwa Nzimande

Empowering me to work for a global organisation that inspires responsible leadership through experiential learning programs in South Africa, Peru, Madrid and Amsterdam.


“I was born in UMzimkhulu, Kwazulu Natal and relocated to Harding whereby I completed my matric there. In 2013, I came to Johannesburg to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Witwatersrand. After I graduated, in 2016 I decided to take a gap year before I start studying towards my honours degree. I went job hunting and started working at a marketing company. It was not a good fit at all purely because I had no interest in marketing. In 2017, I enrolled for my honours degree through a distance learning institution therefore I had a lot of free time and I had to do some voluntary hours as part of the course.

I came to Wits to ask about the volunteer opportunities and Samantha from reception referred me to Chris. From her I understood that if you do the FLFW course you are better prepared to be selected for the voluntary positions. It was an eye-opening programme. It exposes you to what other young adults battle with to find their feet. Although I had a degree, I did not have the adequate skills to navigate the job market. They showed us how to prepare our CV’s and how to prepare for the interviews. It was such a powerful experience. You meet young people with different backgrounds but similar experiences. The FLFW Team and Chris provided continuous help even after we had completed the program. I was able to get a position as a research assistant to assist a Masters student from Harvard Medical on her research study in partnership with Wits RHI. I was very grateful for the opportunity and I gained an immense amount of experience in conducting research, even though it was for a short period. It was through Chris that another exciting opportunity was presented to me which was the program manager role at Emzingo. 

I have been working there for a year and 6 months now alongside the country manager and I have had the opportunity to travel internationally. When I joined Emzingo, I was anxious about the role as I had never been engaged with the nature of work they do. However, through the character building at FLFW, I was confident enough to want to step into the position and be willing to learn and grow in the role to the best of my ability. I am also currently completing my postgraduate studies and working towards becoming an accredited clinical psychologist. I would like to use my profession to provide psychological services to the underserved communities in my hometown.”  

Emzingo Programme Manager, FLFW graduate, 2016, WITS, Gauteng, South Africa



Jasper Ndlovu

Empowering me to start my own business in auto electrical mechanics and generating business by using the latest diagnostic technology


“I love music. I thought I would come to Windhoek and I would work in music and all will be good. It was not that easy. Making a living from music is hard. I could not raise the funds to go to music school. I did menial jobs each month just so that I could pay rent.

In 2016 I joined YEEP. They helped me get accepted into a six-month auto electrical mechanical course. We learned how to manage funds, balance books, grow a business and work with customers. I learnt to save. I can fix a car inside and out. After the course, I joined Herman and we started 25 Contractors. 

I am currently looking for a workshop, but in the meantime work from home. I repair electrical faults on cars, and other dealerships and workshops are now bringing their cars to me because I have a diagnostic machine. The machine brings in work more effectively. We market our business and get a lot of referrals. At YEEP, we learnt about social media and are also on Facebook to let people know that we are in Windhoek. 

My parents are proud of me; I am no longer dependent on them. They advise and encourage me when I face challenges. There is nothing I cannot do.” 

Founding member, 25 Contractors, FLFW, 2016, Windhoek, Namibia



Tatenda Nemaisa

Empowering me to become an Information Technology (IT) Specialist at one of the best IT companies in Namibia


“When I came to Windhoek, I was unemployed and worked part-time as a waitress. The YEEP programme helped me break socio economic barriers, and improved my awareness on issues regarding health and social issues affecting adults. Without YEEP, it would have been difficult for me to attain a tertiary education. In 2010, YEEP assisted me by paying two semesters to study for a diploma in information management at Polytechnic Namibia. In 2011, I did a year of practical experience and unpaid internship to hone my skills. In September 2012, I secured a position at Modus Computer Consulting.

I am working in a male dominated world and there are a lot of misconceptions about women and their work, especially in positions of authority. It is good to be a role model and not be subservient in the workplace. Today, I am responsible to train staff and interns that come for practical experience. I like to give back to the programme, to assist others in those sectors where they have potential. Maybe YEEP could have past beneficiary support and mentor new beneficiaries or even employ them.

Through YEEP I also got the opportunity to go for my drivers’ license and succeeded after three attempts. YEEP linked us to courses that fit our interests. It would be good if the YEEP programme also offered support and equipment to small business start-ups.

I enjoy what I am doing, and I am very happy in my work. One day, I would like to own my own computer company that offers repairs and installation of software and web design.” 

Consultant, Modus Computer Consulting, YEEP FLFW graduate, 2010, Windhoek, Namibia