As the sunset on Friday 1st February, the Lynedoch EcoVillagers gathered at the braai to celebrate the 2013 intake of 14 young people that are generally referred to as ‘the Umzis’. They have enrolled in the Umzi Wethu program which is a joint venture between the Sustainability Institute and the Wilderness Foundation. They will be living in Lynedoch for the duration of their ten-month course. Selected from 45 applications, these 14 Umzis all come from poor communities in the Western Cape. They will participate in formal training programmes that will equip them for jobs in the hospitality sector.
As important is the life skills training, which is why the Wilderness Foundation is involved. As part of their selection process, they walked a wilderness trail in the Table Mountain area and will do so a number times over the coming year. This combination of formal training in a particular set of skills plus a quite rigorous coaching in life skills while they live away from home is what distinguishes the Umzi Wethu programme from most other youth skills development programmes. A similar group completed the programme in 2012 and some already have job