…training for training sake, particularly in Africa, does not work and doesn’t have a meaningful outcome. We need to train with a job in mind, we need to train the whole individual.” Andrew Muir
CP-Africa catches up with Andrew Muir, founder of Umzi Wethu “our homestead”
Andrew Muir, the Executive Director of Wilderness Foundation, earned a master’s degree in Environment and Development from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg and has dedicated over twenty years of his life to conservation and social change in South Africa. In 2006, Andrew founded Umzi Wethu, a programme aimed at providing vulnerable young people with a nurturing environment in which to develop their work and life skills.
In 2008, Andrew was awarded the prestigious Rolex Awards for Enterprise for his work in founding and driving the implementation of the Umzi Wethu Academy model. Funds from the Award enabled him expand the program. The achievement led to an international showcase of the Umzi Wethu through various media channels.
In this video, Andrew talks more about his work, the impact of being a Laureate, his passion for nurturing young people and the value in mentorship
Umzi Wethu targets youth that show resilience and ambition – but despair of opportunities to support their households – and transforms them into highly employable young adults. With a goal “to fulfill the employability potential of resilient, motivated youth displaced by HIV/AIDS and poverty” Umzi Wethu uses the power of the wilderness, promoting personal wellness in a nurturing home context, providing credible training, and securing sustainable job placements in hospitality and eco-tourism establishments – while extending the program’s social outreach to others.
Since inception, 97% of graduates have successfully been linked to a workplace. Umzi Wethu has always maintained an 85% success rate in terms of graduates remaining in employment or further education. Furthermore, 10% of graduates have progressed into junior management positions, while other move on to further their education.
Umzi Wethu’s success is measured by the number of graduates currently employed as it is the emotional and financial gains which come with having a sustainable livelihood that begin to reverse the cycles of social and financial vulnerability. Those who choose to further their education is also seen as key in unlocking future financial independence. While the ultimate goal is to have students work in the fields for which they have been trained, students may find work in an unrelated field. The model is still being refined for easy replication of Umzi Wethu across Southern Africa.
Contact Umzi Wethu
Umzi Wethu Project Office & Hospitality Academy
Eastern Province Child & Youth Care Centre
Cnr Lennox & Conyngham Road
Phone & Fax: 041 3740746
Umzi Wethu Conservation Academy
72 Paulet Street
Phone & Fax: 0422431349