Eleven youth from the greater Stellenbosch area graduated from the renowned The Private Hotel School (PHS) thanks to a programme presented by Bergzicht Training and Development and funded by the Danish grantmaking organisation, the TK Foundation.

Bergzicht Training and Development is a Stellenbosch-based NGO offering skills development training in food preparation, and food and beverage service assistance; health and frail care; and child care.

The youth completed the accredited Cathsseta Food Preparation Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Assistant Programme at no cost because of a three-year donation made by the foundation. Thus far, funding received from the TK Foundation has helped train 104 beneficiaries in health and frail care and food assistant skills at Bergzicht Training and Development.

Three of the beneficiaries who completed the recent programme included Amanda Zanekile from Kayamandi, and Jayden-Lee Andrews and Erika Tshitshiba, both from Lanquedoc. While both Zanekile and Andrews were unemployed when they registered at Bergzicht Training and Development, Tshitshiba left a job as a farm worker to pursue a programme at Bergzicht Training and Development. After completing their work-integrated learning opportunity, Zanekile has been employed by Hazendal Wine Estate, Tshitshiba by Boschendal Wine Estate, and Andrews is set to start another internship soon.

“This was not just a course about making food, but I learned a lot about being a better person and a good leader and how to solve problems on my own,” said Andrews.

“I think I will have lots of opportunities in future and have already been employed by Hazendal Wine Estate. I have learned a lot about working on my own, but also in a team and how to work through conflict and fix a situation and move on,” added Zanekile.

Other beneficiaries also voiced the same sentiment.

“Today is an important day in the journey we have travelled together. Strangers from different stages in life shared a common interest and a hunger to succeed. We did not know how we were going to get here, but through it all, we found the strength to do so. This is also a success for you for making such a difference in our lives,” said Vuyiswa Adam to the Bergzicht Training and Development and PHS staff.

The beneficiaries were addressed by Eldrick Cupido, Project Manager: Compliance at Tsebo Solutions Group. Each year, students visit Fedics at Metanoia residence at Stellenbosch University as part of their orientation programme. This is where they also get to meet Eldrick, who is based at the residence.

Eldrick, who has been in the hospitality industry for 20 years, said he started as a pot washer after completing various in-house training programmes.

“Today I am one of the senior managers in the company. It was not easy. I had to work long hours and lots of weekends and as a young person, your weekend is very important. However, when I look back on my career I realise it was worth it. I am very proud to stand here before you today and tell you that if you keep your focus and head in the right direction, you can go anywhere.”

“It took me 10 years to become one of the managers, but in the process I have occupied every job in my kitchen so I know exactly what happens in the kitchen,” he added.

“What I can also tell you, is that if you come with the right attitude, it’s all I need from you. I don’t need a high school diploma or a university degree, but if you have the right attitude, I can teach you anything.”

Nathalie Skippers, a qualified social worker who offers mentoring and support at Bergzicht Training and Development, reminded the students to always sell themselves like a brand.

“To do that, you have to know what your brand is and feel confident about your brand. If you find yourself struggling with your brand, then think about how you made it through those tough days of your studies. Think of your journey up till now and why you are here where you are now.”

Ms Susina Jooste, the CEO of PHS, said that in the five years that the school has trained more than 300 Bergzicht Training and Development beneficiaries, the stories and inspiration that come from each group still touches her heart.

“It’s never just about doing the work. It’s about connecting and investing in the lives of our beneficiaries and I hope that when you walk out of here that you will remember that we have invested our hope in your lives and that you will go out there and know just how special you are.”

Photo: Eleven beneficiaries completed theCathsseta Food Preparation Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Assistant Programme of Bergzicht Training and Development at The Private Hotel School recently thanks to funding received from the TK Foundation. In the front row are Eldrick Cupido (second from the left), a Project Manager: Compliance at Tsebo Solutions Group and the guest speaker at the event; his co-worker, Mindaleane West (front row, far left); Erika Tshitshiba; Vuyiswa Adam; Leanette Gelant; Andiswa Tom; Sindiswa Gqwaru; Simthembile Nkwamza and Kamvalethu Dumalisile. Standing in the back row are Amanda Zanekile, Noxolo Klaas, Nolundi Mkrezo, and Jayden-Lee Andrews. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)