The Continuing Education for Africa (CEFA) graduation ceremony on 17 November 2023 marked a monumental occasion for six Social Auxiliary Workers who began their year-long learnership with Vulamathuba Empumelelo and CEFA in May 2021. This class of 2021/2022 displayed remarkable resilience and an ability to adjust to new, often anxiety-provoking situations as they started their studies at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They overcame having to conduct their studies online instead of face-to-face and conquered their fears about exposure to the then-still new and frightening disease that was causing havoc in our communities and world. In fact, one of the first community projects the learners, who were expected to complete 30% theory with CEFA and 70% practical work with Vulamathuba Empumelelo, was implementing the COVID-19 vaccination programme for older tenants at Communicare complexes in partnership with the Department of Health.

Enhancing employment prospects
Noma-Africa Maxwele, the Vulamathuba Empumelelo manager, congratulated the learners on their achievement. ” The Social Auxiliary Learnership forms part of Vulamathuba’s economic mobility programme that aims to help beneficiaries access PIVOTAL programmes, helping them complete an accredited qualification and increase their probability of employment and the potential of an increase in earnings. We are therefore happy to have granted these learners the opportunity to complete a post-school qualification to enhance their employment prospects. Seeing their dedication, perseverance and growth throughout their studies was inspiring.”
“We are incredibly proud to have retained two of these learners for employment within the organisation, and we have seen them flourish in their roles. We wish all of them the best of luck in their future endeavours.”

Noluvo Mbiko, a wife and mother of two young children from Nyanga, already had a bachelor’s degree, majoring in Psychology, when she embarked on the social auxiliary work learnership. According to Noluvo, “These studies introduced me to the many challenges people face and how I can better understand other people’s world views. It also helped me relate to people meaningfully, be non-judgmental, be a good listener, and empathise”.
She agrees that studying during the pandemic was challenging but found the support of both Vulamathuba Empumelelo and CEFA helped ease her fears and assisted her in coping with the workload and her responsibilities as a wife and mother.

Noluvo, who was employed as a Social Development Worker at Vulamathuba after completing her studies, expresses her gratitude to Vulamathuba Empumelelo for the learnership which she says,
“Puts me a step closer to achieving my dreams. The Vulamathuba leadership has enhanced my career path. It allowed me to do what I love”.

Kenalemang Tlholagae from Bothasig Gardens, who was also employed as a Social Development Worker at Vulamathuba Empumelelo after the completion of the learnership and is the first graduate in her family, has an 8-year-old daughter who is her inspiration.
Kenalemang admits, “Initially, I was studying to earn a stipend, but the learnership soon made me realise my life purpose and potential”.

Studying during the pandemic was hectic, “The studies through CEFA were online, but thankfully Vulamathuba Empumelelo provided resources like a laptop and data, making it easy for me to study while I was in the comfort of my home. Although the studies were challenging, the support and encouragement of the Vulamathuba staff made it easy for me to perform well. They were always there for me if I needed to talk or debrief about personal and professional matters. My life has changed for the better because of Vulamathuba”.

Vathiswa Mooi from Khayelitsha, who had previously worked as an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Assistant, praised the support she received from her CEFA facilitator and her Vulamathuba Empumelelo mentor. She describes her learnership experience as,
“A journey that taught me how to manage with different attitudes and beliefs than my own and helped me understand and communicate with diverse people with varying needs”.
She admits there were challenges but describes it as a positive experience that “Allowed me to live my dream of working closely with social workers, managing cases, doing home visits and writing reports.” She feels this learnership will open doors to a well-paying and purposeful future.

Ncumisa Phika from Langa has a Public Administration diploma, works at Siviwe Tours, and is a part-time Happy Feet Youth Programme fundraiser.
According to Ncumisa, the learnership “has positively impacted my life as I have gained new skills and opened new career doors. It helped me understand myself better to know my capabilities and limitations. It taught me that it is okay to fail but to learn and grow from the experience. Due to this learnership, I am getting new work opportunities, I am more confident in myself and am pushing myself to be the best I can be.”

For Nthomby Beko, originally from a small Eastern Cape town called Dordrecht, completing the learnership was challenging but rewarding. “I had to balance my life as a single mother and my online studies. But I could cope with the help of the Vulamathuba team, my mentor, and the CEFA facilitator, who inspired me to have the strength and courage to pursue my dreams”.
Nthomby, who is currently working as a Social Auxiliary Worker at Childsafe, sees this learnership as “a stepping stone to getting my social work degree so that I can do more in helping vulnerable people and communities to work through the challenges they face in their daily lives.”

Future Success
For these graduates, the Vulamathuba Empumelelo learnership paved the way for future success. If you are interested in this or the other economic mobility programmes like the matric and bursary programme for tertiary studies that will put you on your road to success, please visit the Vulamathuba Empumelelo website at