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A new initiative to teach economic independence at Thembinkosi School for learners with special educational needs in Tembisa has found voice in a successful Market Day where the learners showcased their creativity and sold their wares.

Consulting engineering firm Mariswe’s Nurture a Girl initiative has supplied female learners at Thembinkosi with basic hygiene needs for the past five years. In 2021 the programme stepped up to provide tools to help its beneficiaries at Thembinkosi become more self-sufficient upon leaving school.

“With employment levels at an all-time low, school leavers need to be able to earn a living without relying on the formal sector,” says Patience Mashala, Nurture a Girl Manager at Mariswe.

This year Mariswe has provided the school with a shed and tools for vegetable gardening, an industrial bread baking stove with dough mixer, industrial sewing machines, carpentry tools and materials, and carwash equipment. Teachers have also received formal training in selected skills so they can guide the learners.

The Market Day at the end of November gave the learners their first opportunity to showcase their newfound vocational skills in sewing, knitting, mat and candle making, gardening, baking, beading and woodwork. Items for sale included everything from bedding, curtains and cushion covers to hats and scarves, belts, food items such as scones and bread, and fresh vegetables.

Keyholders, chopping and serving boards, and planters were just a few of the wooden items up for sale.

Supporting the event were teachers, parents and social workers. Mashala says most of the goods were sold and orders placed for various items. “The learners will use their earnings to purchase materials and Mariswe will continue to support the micro-enterprises that are starting to develop from this initiative.”

She adds that two learners involved in the programme will be completing their schooling at the end of 2021 and Mariswe will assist them with materials to start up their businesses at home.

Contact Patience Mashala at 011 709 8420 or  to support to the Nurture a Girl initiative.