For the last two years the international private grantmaking organisation, the TK Foundation, has funded the training of 102 beneficiaries in health and frail care and food assistant skills through the Stellenbosch-based NGO Bergzicht Training.

The foundation supports non-profit maritime and youth development programmes across the world.

On 26 November 2018, the last two groups of beneficiaries completing the accredited Cathsseta Food Preparation Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Assistant Programme, which consists of two qualifications,  received their certificates from The Private Hotel School (PHS) in Vlottenburg, Stellenbosch. These two qualifications are presented by PHS in collaboration with Bergzicht Training.

Except for sponsoring the training costs for the advanced programmes, graduates are also able to complete the entry-level 15-day iPOWER (Self-Empowering) Foundation Programme as well as the 10-day Employability Course thanks to the foundation. The Employability Course also includes a 5-day Computer Training course at JCT Computer Training.

Over the last two years, the TK Foundation has sponsored 9 groups, which amounted to 102 students.

“We were also fortunate to have JSL Clothing sponsor our beneficiaries’ chef jacket,” said Ms Renske Minnaar, CEO of Bergzicht Training.

The JSL sponsorship was initiated by Tsebo Outsourcing Group.

A number of guests from the hospitality industry were present, including Ms Jeanneret Momberg of Middelvlei Wines and Vice Chairperson of the Stellenbosch Wine Route, Ms Heather Cooper of the TK Foundation, Ms Susina Jooste, Director of PHS, as well as Bergzicht Training Board members Mr Nathan Motjuwadi and Mr Charl de Villiers.

A short video on Bergzicht Training’s work, which was sponsored by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), was also shown at the event. The HSF has been funding Bergzicht Training since the NGO first opened its doors in 1992.

Graduates Lungelwa Booysen (29) from Kayamandi and Josephine September (28) from Wesbank, Delft, said they were really excited to enter the hospitality and tourism industries now that they have the relevant skills to do so.

Booysen was working at BP when she first heard about Bergzicht Training.

“I applied to Bergzicht Training in August 2017 and hassled Abigail at reception until they called me in January this year for an interview,” said Booysen.

Because there were no upcoming food assistant programmes for graduates over 24, Booysen was only able to progress to the programme in early 2018.

“While I completed Grade 10 and started a marketing course at a college in George, this is my first graduation and my first qualification. It has provided me with the confidence to know that I have the skills to find a job and a certificate [which I can use as a foundation] to continue to uplift myself.”

“I have wanted to do a food assistant programme since my high school days and wanted to first finish matric and then start working in the hospitality sector on a cruise ship. So this is actually a dream come true for me.”

For September, it had taken nearly four years to find her way to Bergzicht Training after speaking to family and friends who had all studied at the NGO.

“By the time I got to Bergzicht Training, my patience had run out. I had been home for four years by then. Things are rough in the area I live in and there is no future for you there, no community projects to help you uplift yourself. I called Abby [at Bergzicht Training] every day to find out when I could start a programme. On 6 July, my birthday, Abby called me and told me I could come in for an interview for the iPOWER programme.”

“My experience here has been amazing. I learnt so much here. The 10 weeks were hectic at times and travelling was often very difficult. I had to spend time with my four-year old and partner after class, clean, make food and do my homework. I felt like giving up some days, but then I thought I have come so far I have to keep going.”

During her work-integrated learning, September, who had always thought she would become an air hostess, often received compliments about her knife skills from her peers in the industry.  She has already been offered a position at Fedics at Sanlam in Bellville.

“My self-confidence has increased and I feel I can take on anything now. I want to thank the TK Foundation and Bergzicht Training for everything. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be where I am right now,” she added.

Cooper, who drew inspiration from a speech that her 12-year old son had written for a class presentation, said that when she looked at the graduates in front of her, she saw superheroes.

“When we think of superheroes we usually imagine men in capes fighting bad guys or people dressed up like spiders or bats saving damsels in distress. But not all superheroes are that obvious and they don’t all look the same. The main defining feature of a superhero is not his or her looks or the type of outfits they wear, but rather a set of characteristics that they share,” she said, listing selflessness, determination, grit, fearlessness, kindness, and a desire to do the right thing as characteristics.

“It occurred to me while listening to my son Jordan that day that I was going to address a group of people who have the exact same qualities as all of the superheroes discussed in Jordan’s speech. I don’t think any of you look like a Superman or Batman or Gandhi or an American Special Forces soldier, but that is not what defines a superhero. You all possess the traits that define a hero.”

Cooper added that the TK Foundation was proud to be connected to Bergzicht Training through the sponsorship of their programmes, in particular because the NGO’s programmes were based on the philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out”. The programmes also had a far wider impact than the individual alone.

“Through your decision to come to Bergzicht Training, you have changed the course of your life. But that is not all you have done. You have also changed the lives of your family members and your community, not only by gaining the skills to get a great job, but also by the example you have set for others.”

“So, if you want to see a superhero, don’t look up in the sky or at the top of a building. Rather take a look at the people in this room and you might see a superhero in front of you or next to you or even one sitting in the seat that you are in.”

Cathsseta Food Preparation Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Assistant Programme

Photo: Heather Cooper from the TK Foundation was present at the graduation ceremony of the last two groups of 24 students who completed the Cathsseta Food Preparation Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Assistant Programme. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)