I Can! Farm

4a - Carrot class

The I Can! Merrivale academy near Howick, KZN has been open for almost a year. It is the first agricultural academy in the group and has 6 classes catering for a maximum of 85 learners at full capacity.

The first group of learners, enrolled on Plant Production (NQF level 1) have almost completed their learnership. During the course of this past year they have been introduced to farming practices and have learned how to grow their own vegetables.

It was hard work at the start. The ground had to be prepared for vegetable planting and this involved many hours of weeding, digging, composting, analyzing the soil type and then adding nutrients to improve the quality of the soil. Seeds and seedlings were then planted into open vegetable gardens as well as into the newly erected vegetable tunnel.

In between class work, the learners would put on their gumboots and overalls and then tend to the rapidly growing spinach, carrot, bean and cabbage plants. Competition between groups was tough and a certain amount of bragging was noticed when some plants grew stronger than others. The learners were delighted when they realized that all harvested vegetables were theirs to take home.

We are extremely proud of our agricultural academy. It is a happy place, where you will hear songs in the morning, excited chatter throughout the day and watch a group of learners realize that you can place ABILITY before disability with astonishing results.

Watch us grow!

Rowan Robinson
Manager: Agriculture and Special Projects

4b - Carrot harvest

Khulisani mobile IT Centre

3 - Khulisani mobile IT van

In 2012 Khulisani launched an innovative mobile IT project in partnership with an international communications company, to assist with computer instruction/training for people with disabilities living near the Vereeniging area in Gauteng. The focus – as always – was on the upliftment of individuals with disabilities. The project has run for its projected 3 years, and we are now looking for a new corporate sponsorship to help continue with this successful initiative.

We had identified Vereeniging as a suitable project-site after conducting research into the needs of the disabled community there. We advertised and engaged an IT trainer (who happened to also have a disability) and driver, and customised the training accordingly.

Khulisani purchased a Toyota Quantum van, took out the seats and created the space needed to install workstations for 6 laptops. In order to accommodate the different disabilities which each of the learners experience, we researched (and identified) different computer teaching methodologies, illustrative software (English and Afrikaans, poor to good literacy), wheelchair ramps, and suitable seating on board. The vehicle was branded according to the sponsoring clients’ specifications, creating an ideal marketing opportunity for them. Our endeavours ensured a positive outcome for all stake holders involved in the project.

By investing in this mobile IT Unit, we have been able to offer much needed computer skills and training to children and young adults living with disabilities in the Vereeniging area.

Our present objective is to continue offering this important service. To do so, we need to find a suitable sponsor who would benefit from participating in this wonderful opportunity. The sponsor would contribute with funding by using ED or SED spend. The potential sponsor could brand the vehicle according to their needs, and thereby create a unique marketing opportunity in the region of operation.

If you would like to learn more about this project, or think that it may be something which your company could support please call us: 031 5630507.

All other contact details available on our website: www.khulisani.co.za

Rachael Erskine
National Operations Manager – Khulisani

Mandela Day – Vereeniging Academy

2 - Vereeniging Mandela Day

Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

It has become accepted practice in South Africa that on Mandela day we try and dedicate 67 minutes of our time to those less fortunate than ourselves and make a difference in their lives.

This year the I Can! Academy in Vereeniging dedicated 67 minutes of their time on the 20th of July 2015 at Eurisko Centre in Vereeniging. The I Can! learners collected a few items, which enabled them to prepare some warm soup for Eurisko Centre’s residents – including both young and elderly people. Together, learners and residents played games and afterwards enjoyed a wonderful hot cup of soup on a cold wintery day. It was a blessed day as it brought smiles on the faces of Eurisko’s people.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Quoted by: Nelson Mandela

I Can! learners and staff also felt proud of themselves for having made the day such a huge success by being able to feed the needy on Mandela Day. It was a time filled with love and joy and we are happy to report that everyone had a wonderful day.

Liane Chipangura
Operations Manager – Gauteng

Day by day, Bit by bit. My journey with I Can!

1-Our Little Family

As a young girl, I always knew that I would make a difference one day. I didn’t know how, what, or where I would end up; but if there was one thing I was sure of, it was that I would have a happy home and a job that I could be proud of.

Twenty years later I am married to an incredible husband, a group of the greatest supporter-friends, a bubbling little boy that is filling my life with all the shades of love, and a career that I boast about every day.

Before I joined the I Can! family, I worked in the disability sector as a program co-ordinator but I started getting so frustrated with the limited resources available for families affected by disability in the region. I decided to enrich my skills set to do something about it. Together with my number 1 supporter (my husband Charles), we enrolled into a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Business School.

In September 2012, just under a year into the degree, I came across I Can! and knew that this was the place for me. I soon joined the company by spearheading the expansion of I Can!’s footprint into the Eastern Cape. Three years later I started academies in Port Elizabeth and East London, employed 15 full time staff members, trained 156 learners, graduated with a MBA degree and birthed a busy baby boy. People say MBA is a divorce course…well, Charles and I ended up “plus one”!

The course not only provided me with so much knowledge and insight on growing and developing a business, it equipped me with essential skills in leadership and managing a diverse team.

One of my team members brought me a note one day with the meaning of my name. It reads “Lauren, you are a believer. Regardless of what other people might think, your faith is your core devotion in life. It’s the one thing inside you that will not change even when your outside changes…”

Nothing else is truer than this. Today I am exactly the person I want to be: I am living exactly the life I had dreamed of as a little girl and day by day, bit by bit, I am making a difference.

I’ll never be able to fully express my gratitude to the management and colleagues at I Can! that have showed belief in me and helped me reach the heights I’m now soaring at.

Forever grateful,
Lauren Butler
Operations Manager: Eastern Cape

Kempton Park News

Kempton Park News letter June 2015

In order to become a great Facilitator, one must go beyond the textbook and attend workshops and ongoing educational interventions to fully master the practice.

Author unknown

The I Can! Kempton Park Facilitation Team decided to start the journey towards greatness! As a group it was decided to expand on each other’s knowledge and experience by conducting monthly workshops.

Starting from the month of June 2015 this team will meet every month and take turns in presenting information aimed at empowering facilitators with knowledge and improving facilitation performance, with a specific focus on productivity and results.

We had our first workshop in the 4th week of June where one of our facilitators Francinah Tsotetsi presented the following topic: Managing Learners.

We wish the team well as they live by the motto, “I Can! Learn”

Petronella Mthethwa
Academy Supervisor, Kempton Park

It Is Not The End Of The World

IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD

My name is Andronica Tshabalala and I am 26 years old.

At the age four I was involved in a fire explosion that took place in my granny’s house in Daveyton. I was seriously injured in my eye, and ever since that day I have lost my vision in my right eye. My life has been so difficult since then, living with a blind eye – it has not been easy.

When I went to public hospital seeking for help, they recommended an optometrist. Unfortunately I could not go due to financial constraints.

I use eye drops daily to reduce the pain, but sometimes the eye drops do not help at all. Despite this I thank God that I am still alive.

If it was not for I Can!, I don’t know where I would be. I am very blessed that I Can! came into my life and made me feel important, loved and appreciated.

I am very honoured to work at CIMSSA. I am now a permanent employee, working as a Receptionist. Management is treating me well and empowering me by sending me to trainings and paying for my studies.

All I can say is that I was blessed to be introduced to I Can!, they have done their best to help people living with disabilities.

Andronica Tshabalala
Receptionist and Learner

Braampark Academy Celebrates Youth Day in Style

Braampark academy celebrates youth day in style

Together with the rest of South Africa our Braampark Academy commemorated Youth Day on the 16th of June in remembrance of all the young people who lost their lives on that day.

The Learners dressed in school uniform and came prepared for a range of activities taking place on the day. The activities included watching the movie “Sarafina”, which described what happened during the 1976 Soweto uprising. The learners also had the opportunity of participating in a “Spelling Bee” competition.

Spelling Bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words. The learners were divided into two competing groups. Each group was made up of learners with various disabilities, including deaf learners, learners with intellectual disabilities and those with physical disabilities.

The concept was adopted from the Khaya FM Spelling Bee in partnership with the Spelling Bee organization. The goal is to help enrich an individual’s vocabulary . The competition also encouraged diversity, tolerance and acceptance within the groups. A strong bond was formed between the two groups while the facilitators were given the daunting task of judging the competition.

We thank the Braampark staff for organizing such a great event.

Winnie Mokoti
Operations Manager – Gauteng

I Can! Clean becomes Capacity Clean

Reasonable accommodation Cleaning

In 2014 I Can! started a new division called I Can! Clean with a view to providing employment for our learners that had completed learnerships within one of our academies.

One of the most wonderful cases of inclusion and reasonable accommodation that I have ever witnessed has been through the cleaning division.

One of our academy learners applied for a position within our cleaning division.  We were initially concerned about placing Gugu on site as she is a little person and we thought that due to her not being able to reach most surfaces she would not be able to perform the cleaning tasks required of her.  However, due to her persistence, we placed Gugu in a call centre as a cleaner.

I accompanied her on-site for her first shift and was dismayed at the way all of the call centre agents stared at Gugu the first time she walked down the centre of the call centre area and asked Gugu if she was going to be ok.  Gugu replied confidently that she would be absolutely fine.  To my amazement, I returned to the site a week later to check on Gugu, to find that as she walked through the same area where the agents had previously stared at her and made comments under their breaths, they were now shouting “Hi” and giving her high-fives as she passed by!!!

I learnt two lessons from Gugu.  The first being to never make the assumption that someone cannot perform certain tasks due to their disability: ask the person with the disability first – often something as simple as a step-ladder will enable the person to perform their job just like anyone else!  The second lesson was: don’t let your own fears and inhibitions hold people with disabilities back – trust them and follow their lead.  As the well-known disability slogan goes “Nothing about us without us….”

Since I Can! Clean showed such great potential to ensure employment for our learners, a decision was made to take this opportunity to another level of professionalism by entering into a partnership with Capacity Outsourcing. Through this partnership we are able to assist our clients to provide employment for their learners once they have completed their learnership, as well as access the 5 bonus points under the new Skills Development Codes.  Capacity has staff employed in this division with over 13 years’ experience in the corporate cleaning industry and I Can! has the knowledge and experience on how to successfully integrate people with disabilities into the workplace.

In our experience, cleaning services (specifically office and ablution cleaning) offers the ideal environment for repetitive work which is ideally suited to people with an intellectual disability.

Should you find this solution attractive and in line with your corporate transformation process, we would welcome the opportunity to explain in more detail the impact of this proposition – not only for you as our client, but also for your learner.

Ali Smeeton
Managing Director

 

Cape Town – Bellville Academy Camp!

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I CAN! VERY FIRST PRACTICAL CAMP

On the 27 April 2015 the I Can! Cape Town learners and facilitators left on a three day camp to Apostle Battery Camp in Llundudno. The Camp was planned in light of the learner’s upcoming Modules Main Meals, Light Meals and Bedrooms and Bathrooms which forms part of the Domestic Services Learnership. The camp provided the facilitators and learners with the necessary practical requirements in terms of the kitchen and bathrooms.

This experience was a first for I Can! Facilitators as well as learners, as most of them have never ventured further than the academy or their homes. The camp site is situated facing the ocean and is beautiful and was easily able to house the 67 learners for the three days as well as the 5 facilitators. The kitchen was adequately equipped for the three days, to complete the practical work with the learners. The learners were exposed to a number of activities that assisted them to provide the assessor with authentic and real evidence for their portfolios. The camp in itself was sponsored entirely by the learners who attended the camp and no financial support was required from I Can Management. The three days were planned with each day having a schedule and menu for the different meals that needed preparing. The learners were closely supervised and assisted during this time and they were able to showcase their talents in the kitchen.

It was not only work and no play, the learners also had an opportunity to explore and share their creative talents while they were there. A number of fun activities were planned to stimulate their minds and to encourage team work. A family tree was erected on the wall of the camp, they had a dancing competition and played outdoor games such as basketball and soccer. The learners had a chance to bond with each other and their facilitators. This spilled over into the work place as each team member discovered a new respect and willingness to assist each other at the workplace.

It was truly an unforgettable and enjoyable three days.

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Employee of the Month : Vereeniging Academy

Josef Le Grange

Anyone who has ever been to our Vereeniging academy will agree with me when I say that Josef is the first person you see on arrival and the last person you will see again when you leave.

Josef ushers all visitors from the car park, assists them with their belongings and leaves them in the hands of the rightful person to attend to them in the academy. He does the same to the staff when they arrive in the morning and also when they leave.

The academy Supervisor (Francis van der Watt) in her own words told me that this academy wouldn’t function without Josef. Apart from the daily tasks that comes with his position, he goes an extra mile to ensure all staff and learners are catered for. He opens the academy before anyone arrives and he sets up everyone’s work station. By the time the staff get to work, their air conditioners will already be set according to their preferences and their desks will be clean.

Now you could argue that all of this should be part of his job description, however Vereeniging staff will disagree. Throughout the time they have worked with him, staff and learners feel that Josef treats everyone with respect and he is ALWAYS willing to assist with anything, even if it’s not his job.

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When I issued staff gifts on the graduation function on the 24th of April, I had so much to say about Josef’s role in the academy and the best way I could describe him was that “Josef is the one who looks after all of us in the academy