Leaving the safety of a school environment to make one’s own way in life can be a daunting experience for young people, particularly for those challenged by life circumstances and with a lack of financial support. As a new generation of youth prepare to leave school, following a particularly challenging time worsened by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sappi Forests reached out and extended some support and advice to Grade 11 and 12 learners at the Mandadla High School near Bulwer in the KZN Midlands.
Since 2015, with the introduction of its Abashintshi programme, where a group of about 100 young previously unemployed youths were trained to adopt the ABCD approach and combined with life skills and small business skills training, have started to make real change in their communities, Sappi has reached out to its surrounding communities in an effort to further entrench this philosophy.
A career day was arranged to share information, to prepare these learners with career choices, and to generally equip them with practical knowledge, as well as some philosophical advice on how to make the right choices, based on using the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) approach. This career day, which preceded this year’s 16 June Youth Day celebrations, was attended by the learners, who were eager to learn about bursaries, access to tertiary institutions, as well as entry requirements for careers in the forestry industry, in finance, human resources, engineering and a host of others.
The principal of the school, Mr S.D Hadebe expressed his sincere gratitude to the Sappi team, who spent their time with the learners, providing guidance, information and answering questions. His sentiments were echoed by Department of Education District Manager, Ms. Dlamini, who applauded Sappi for the initiative, as well as by Mr Jama, the Sandanezwe Traditional council representative, who thanked Sappi on behalf of the parents and the community.
Commenting on the appreciation received from the local community for this initiative, Mr Patrick Maringa, Sappi Senior Area Manager for KZN South said:
"The message that was spread at this career day will ensure that more people in our neighbouring communities are aware of the wide range of careers that are made available through the forestry value chain. There is also a greater appreciation for the fact that what we are doing is unlocking the power of renewable resources to meet the needs of the planet and people, while also providing jobs for thousands of people. We will certainly look at more ways, like these career days, where we can create and provide shared value for our communities, while also building good neighbourly relations built on trust”.