In February 2021, a group of 100 curious and eager-minded young people embarked on a journey they believed would alleviate their frustration of being neither employed nor in further education. The Faranani Infrastructure Project – a skills training initiative geared towards making young people employable or self-employed – was birthed through a collaborative effort between the Trevor Noah Foundation and YouthBuild South Africa.
The participants named the initiative “Faranani“, which means “working together” in Tshivenda. As part of the Khulani Schools model, the project aims to enhance school infrastructure while upskilling unemployed youth within their communities through a practical training opportunity.
With the South African unemployment rate at an all-time high of 32.5% leaving 7.2 million people jobless, opportunities like this provide much-needed relief to underserved communities. Over and above the technical construction training, the project teaches life, entrepreneurship, and work readiness skills, all critical in maintaining employment.
Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).
Participants were recently deployed to complete various infrastructure projects at our Khulani Schools in the same community where they live with newly acquired skills. We visited Nkone Maruping Primary School and Moses Kotane Primary School in Braamfischerville to understand how the participants are experiencing the project so far.
Within a few weeks of the technical training, Karabo Mooketsa (24) started building a backroom within her yard to generate additional income for her family. Currently, there is only one breadwinner in her family of six.
“I was so excited to know that as a female, I can also learn construction. When I first started, I had no knowledge of this sector. Now I can say that I love it, and since I’ve learned so much, I’m ready to do more.” – Karabo Mooketsa.
For many others, the project has gone beyond their expectations. Mavela Mhlongo, Team Lead at Nkone Maruping Primary School, shared that:
“Although the program is primarily about infrastructure and construction, there is much more that we are learning. We all have problems, so what we do early in the mornings is to conduct sessions to talk about our issues. Other people don’t know how to talk about their feelings. Here we can sit down and talk about the challenges that we’re facing. We play “mind games” that help to detach from situations outside of that game for that moment in time.”
Matsibolo Mangena (28) from the Moses Kotane Primary School team shares Mavela’s sentiment. Like many young people, before joining the project, he had been a victim of poor life choices due to not having options within his immediate surroundings. Within a few months in the project, he decided to join a rehabilitation programme to end the cycle of crime and substance abuse. Instead, he focused his efforts on rebuilding his life to one of intention and purpose.
“I realised that life is like a construction project. When a structure has to be erected, it needs a plan which has to go through an approval process. Once it’s built, it then has to undergo inspection. There were areas in my life that I needed to fix. I decided to take the principles of construction and apply them to my own life.”
While each project participant has a unique story, they have an underlying thread of renewed hope, a willingness to serve their community, and a determination to succeed. This is the spirit of the Faranani Infrastructure Project.