A hopeful story from Greater Hermanus


Churches in the western Cape, where unemployment is high, especially for first-time job seekers, support a program for young people to get job experience through a type of internship.

This morning I attended what was probably one of my most “spiritual” and hopeful experiences…what I experienced could also be called a “safe space sharing” experience.

Theo Krynauw from Sparkle Kids in Hermanus (www.sparklekids.co.za ) has now initiated a group called “Get on with it Hermanus”. This is a group of people who meet at a local restaurant once a month (the restaurant owner, Francois, is a member and he provides his space and some tea and coffee for free) and this is one of the few “multiracial” spaces in Hermanus where people from the communities of Zwelihle, Hawston, Mount Pleasant and Hermanus all come together.

The key reason why they are together is to find ways of assisting young people between the ages of 18 – 30 who have no or few opportunities to get ahead in life.

They have partnered with DEADAT in the Western Cape (Department of Environmental Affairs, Development and Tourism) and this means that they are currently employing 130 young adults, mainly from Zwelihle, who each get R2000 per month from the Department, which is then supplemented by an employer who gives them an opportunity to work in their business for 6 months. This program is for a 6 month period and that is all that the employer agrees to. The 130 young people in the Greater Hermanus area is a significant percentage of the 1000 young people which the Western Cape aims to recruit in any six month period. This is a ‘stepping stone’ to other opportunities for the young adults.

Some of the young people who have completed their six months of work have saved the money they have earned and have now used this money to register at Universities. Theo remarked that he could notice the confidence level of these young people who had been working – that it was above those who did not work. The format of the meeting was relatively informal, with different people getting up at different times to explain what they are busy with. Most impressive was one young person, William, who has opened a Youth Café in Zwelihle at 1870 Msomi Street in Zwelihle. Some construction people in Hermanus have assisted him with the construction of the Youth Café and he was there to thank them and to give an update on what will happen there, including that it will be a space for matriculants to study as well as a space for cultural tourism. Already this year they have hosted 4 groups of international tourists, mainly from Sweden.

Someone asked what else they need and he mentioned the need for furniture, kitchenware, etc. and it seemed as if some people were immediately ready to assist them with this. His partner is Fikiswa, and she is a cultural specialist who tells stories about the culture of the people in Zwelihle.

The person who helps to source the Swedish groups, Dennis, is a Swede who was involved in education. He has already brought more than 100 used laptops from Sweden (which he sourced from municipalities there) and are handing a laptop to each child who passes their Matric with a university pass. Dennis is also involved with a project called “Future Design” where he assists young people to design their own future, away from blaming their parents etc for what they have today and where they are in life.

Another initiative mentioned was one which would deal with those who are addicted to drugs. Anthea spoke passionately about this and said that “Don’t do drugs” is one of the most useless approaches, but that she uses art to deal with this challenge (she showed us one of her artworks, even though she is not an artist) and prefer to give the following message: “You have value. You have a need to belong. Create it.”

A similar project called a “youth substance intervention program” has also been started by Lu-Anne, and this uses a very successful MATRIX MODEL. She mentioned that in the Greater Hermanus schools, there are 280 known cases of young people on drugs, and this excludes Hermanus Primary and Hermanus High, as they would not give their statistics.

Volunteers were also called for the SHINE project and some discussion was held about saving the Whale Coast community Radio station.

Theo also mentioned AHA (Authentic Hopeful Action) and we will speak more about this at other monthly meetings.

To learn more about these initiatives in Hermanus, simply go to the “Get on with it Hermanus’ Facebook page. There are probably many similar groups in different communities in South Africa, and it is important that people know about these and get inspiration from these in order to build a better South Africa, from the bottom up.