Empowerment centre boosts the community

2018-10-17 06:01
Willem van der Walt (middle) with his computer class graduates, from left, Pastor Lenny Moodley, Shakira Kaye, Kaashifa Rajaal and Raoul Williams.                                      Photo: ZELDRÉ STRAUSS SWANEPOEL

Willem van der Walt (middle) with his computer class graduates, from left, Pastor Lenny Moodley, Shakira Kaye, Kaashifa Rajaal and Raoul Williams. Photo: ZELDRÉ STRAUSS SWANEPOEL

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DESPITE a lack of resources, the Malabar Community Empowerment Centre is still managing to uplift the community.

The centre, situated at the Malabar Community Hall, is manned by volunteers and has given the community access to needlework, first aid and basic computer classes, all free of charge.

The three-month computer classes are taught by Willem van der Walt, who is blind, and his students have all been sighted persons.

Van der Walt became involved with the community centre in June after a friend who had been teaching the computer classes, passed away.

“This is my way of giving back to the community. It is not strange to teach sighted people. I teach them with my own computer, because the centre does not have access to any other computers. Because I am blind, my computer ‘talks’ to me and the students learn on my ‘talking’ computer,” explained Van der Walt.

“Most students who start here don’t know anything about computers, so everything is basically from scratch. After three months they are so confident and after the training they are even setting up the cables.”

All students who take part in these courses receive certificates after completion.

Joan Harris, chairperson of the empowerment centre, said she was very proud of the community members that have made use of the classes. “Some of our graduates have already been placed in jobs, and others are helping themselves with the skills they have been taught at the centre,” Harris said.

“There are women especially who now feel empowered by the needlework skills they have been taught.

“They are now able to help their families and it gives them a sense of pride.”

Harris and the eight volunteer staff also aim at providing the students with a cooked meal on the training days.

“We rely on donations from businesses and individuals for the materials we work with and the food we provide. We would love to teach our needlework students on industrial sewing machines so that enables them to find work at factories.

“Currently we are teaching on two domestic sewing machines and the students have to take turns to work on them,” Harris said.

Ward councillor, Sharlene Davids, said she supported the centre and hoped that it would receive financial assistance to grow further.

For more info call Van Der Walt on 071 986 8480.

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