Thanks to a generous donation from the Jannie Mouton Foundation, Bergzicht Training and Development was able to establish a Campus Feeding Programme in March this year to provide beneficiaries with a light lunch each day after many of the organisation’s beneficiaries had fallen on hard times during the pandemic.

“Bergzicht Training and Development contacted the Jannie Mouton Foundation for assistance, and they promptly approved a funding proposal enabling us to quickly get the programme off the ground,” explains Nathalie Skippers, a registered social worker who heads up Student Mentoring and Support at Bergzicht Training and Development.

The Campus Feeding Programme started in March 2020 and will be continuing in 2022 due to the continued support of the Foundation.

The Jannie Mouton Foundation has made many donations to Bergzicht Training and Development over several years.

“They have shown a great interest in the work of Bergzicht Training and Development and believe strongly in our mission and vision,” says Skippers.

The Foundation has been funding the compulsory iPOWER (Self-Empowering) Programme since 2019.

“It is a critical component that lays the foundation in life skills and soft skills that beneficiaries need to attain success in the advanced training programmes offered by Bergzicht Training and Development, and the employment market,” she adds.

According to Skippers, “the light lunch offered on campus is often the only daily meal that beneficiaries get.”

“Concentrating in class on and being able to write tests as well as complete other assessments becomes very difficult for someone who comes to class on an empty stomach and has no food in their home,” explains Skippers.

“Often mothers also have to forgo eating so that their children will have a meal. Knowing that you will be receiving lunch each day makes it easier for students to participate fully, stay determined to complete their training programme, concentrate in class, and successfully complete assignments. This is why providing a light lunch to our students is so important for their success.”

Many of Bergzicht Training and Development’s beneficiaries are women who are unemployed and have limited education or vocational qualifications and skills, which makes it harder for them to uplift and empower themselves and extricate themselves from a life of poverty. However, once they graduate (often the first graduation in their lives) from Bergzicht Training and Development with relevant vocational skills, there are many possibilities that open up for them in terms of employment, which changes their lives, but also those of their families and their communities.

“Bergzicht Training and Development has nearly three decades of expertise in working with beneficiaries with various life challenges and understands what our students face and what they need to navigate the difficult pathway to empowered, self-sustaining lives.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact thereof, says Skippers, has “significantly curtailed household income” and the effect on sub-economic households, like those that beneficiaries come from, has been catastrophic.

“Organisations are taking a cautious approach to employing new people and the effect on the hospitality industry has been enormous. With low prospects for a quick economic recovery, there will be a continuous need for the Campus Feeding Programme in 2022.”

“This, combined with the lack of caution in general society, has raised the level of stress, economic hardship and associated mental health issues in our greater Stellenbosch community and everywhere else. “

Yet, says Skippers, “students have shown remarkable resilience in completing their training even in the face of challenges that include the death of parents, family, and friends from COVID-19, taxi violence, strikes and disruptions to transport systems”.

“The Campus Feeding Programme would not have been possible without the support of the Jannie Mouton Foundation, which plays a critical role in the long-term success of Bergzicht graduates.”

Each year funding from the Foundation enables 100 students a year to enrol for the iPOWER (Self-Empowering) Programme. The Foundation recently approved a further three-year cycle of funding for the iPOWER programme in 2022.

MAIN PHOTO: Many students at Bergzicht Training and Development have benefitted from the Campus Feeding Programme that is sponsored by the Jannie Mouton Foundation.