Ophelp team grows

2018-06-19 06:00

Four members of the Straatwerk Ophelp team will soon be qualified personal fitness trainers – with training funded entirely through the team’s hard work.

Straatwerk’s Ophelp programmes help desperate and destitute individuals to earn cash in hand by means of honest, hard work as an alternative to aggressive begging, theft or other criminal activities.

The project runs teams of workers who carry out unskilled manual labour under the supervision of a foreman. The project works in partnership with organisations such as ratepayers’ associations and improvement districts to provide services such as street cleaning.

A few years ago, external funding for a Siyakha occupational therapy course was discontinued, explains Straatwerk’s Hannes van der Merwe, which saw the Ophelp team undertaking to pay for their occupational training themselves. The Ophelp Training Fund was established and, R5 at a time, has grown to allow the first four participants to receive training.

Van der Merwe explains: “Participants who wish to qualify for the benefits of the fund must each commit himself to a weekly or monthly contribution, affordable to the participant in all circumstances (and also to increase it as his financial power grows – particularly after making use of the fund). The minimum allowable contribution is R5 per week. All these small but regular contributions have already built up thousands of rand, able to pay for the first training opportunity that already started.

“What is significant in today’s achievement is that the Ophelp Training Fund is yet to be sponsored by outside sponsors to amplify what Ophelp participants raise themselves through it.”

Potential trainees must participate in and be regular members of an Ophelp team to qualify to participate as a contributor in the fund, Van der Merwe explains.

“The team leaders will approve suitable vocational training for their team members, knowing their aptitude and possibilities, as proven in the team. In each case there will also be some practical and appropriate specific selection criteria.

“The regular contribution of the potential candidate must also be up to date, otherwise the candidate forfeits the chance. In this way candidates prove suitability, diligence and responsibility before they may make use of the benefit.

“The participants currently undergoing training will, if they pass the training programme, not only be qualified to follow a career as personal fitness trainers, they will also use their new skills to help run the Ophelp health and fitness programme,” says Van der Merwe.

“All participants in Ophelp are encouraged to do something to get and keep their bodies as healthy and fit as they can. Ophelp is currently developing opportunities for regular participants to participate in very basic group exercises, offered by our special A-Team, designed to help them get as agile as possible, before each day’s shift activities. This will also include advice on healthy eating and drinking habits. We also consider our Bath House service for personal hygiene part of this programme,” he explains.

Decisions about any training courses will happen on an ad hoc basis for the time being.

“This can and will happen any time. We will of course be limited to what the fund can afford. In this regard we trust to gain the support of kind and appropriate donors who will strengthen the financial power of the fund,” says Van der Merwe.

V For more information, call 021 425 0140 or visit www.straatwerk.org.za.

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