Tackling the poverty of opportunity – Monique’s story
10 October, 2017
In South Africa, over 66% of the population is under the age of 35. Sadly, young people aged 18 to 35 also make up the bulk of South Africa’s unemployed population. There are a number of reasons for this, but there’s one that we believe is particularly crippling – the poverty of opportunity.
The poverty of opportunity particularly affects young people living in South Africa’s under-resourced and impoverished township communities. Whether located near a bustling city or in rural farmlands, these youth remain significantly disadvantaged through the lack of opportunity to work or to study further. This poverty of opportunity limits any vision for a positive future and results in the average age of first-time work at 29 for women or 27 for men.
We believe that there is inordinate power and potential in our nation’s young people. Recognising this, our Literacy Tutor Programme operates in some of South Africa’s poorest township communities, such as Wemmershoek, a small settlement in the Cape Winelands region of the Western Cape. With rife unemployment in the community, young people most especially struggle to find long-term work in the semi-rural surrounding communities and often are limited to seasonal work on farms. With limited opportunities for further education or employment in Wemmershoek, the Literacy Tutor Programme is connecting young people to what they need most – training and work experience.
One such youth participating in the Literacy Tutor Programme in Wemmershoek is Monique Petersen. After completing Matric in 2016, Monique looked for an opportunity to positively engage her for the year while she decided what to study. When she heard about the opportunity at help2read from friends in her neighbourhood, Monique quickly applied. Having enjoyed working with children at her mother’s educare centre, she thought she would be well-suited for the Literacy Tutor Programme.
Monique began training with help2read in February and started as a Literacy Tutor later that month. She walks to Wemmershoek Primary School every morning at 7am and describes her day to be a fun-filled learning experience with the learners. Her face lights up as she shares the changes she’s seen in the lives of the learners that she works with. Not only has she witnessed them develop and grow in their reading, she has also seen changes in their confidence, their self-esteem, and their attitude towards school and homework.
Monique believes the impact of her work with learners will also help them in years to come. “I’m doing this because I love tutoring young children and it’s vital for them to be literate in the language because it’s going to become necessary for them in the next few years to come and in their future.”
It is not only the learners whose lives have changed. Monique’s has too. The Literacy Tutor Programme has helped her develop new skills, improve her English and increase her vocabulary. She has learnt to be patient with children and understand that each child has the potential to grow at their own pace. Perhaps most importantly, Monique has become a role model for the learners she supports.
Monique has also experienced personal growth while on the programme. Implementing a rigid routine, managing her time and working with a limited income and personal budget have all been significant areas of growth for her over the last year.
For Monique, the last seven months have been life changing and have helped her make key decisions about her future. She can’t wait to start her three-year degree in education and hopes to return to the school to give back what she has received.
Monique’s story is echoed by a number of the young men and women that have participated in the Literacy Tutor Programme. Not only have they been awakened to the impact they can have on their community, they are filled with hope for their future, equipped with the skills they need to access opportunities of further employment and education.
See Monique in action in our latest video, The Gift of Literacy, which highlights the Literacy Tutor Programme and its impact.