Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the category “Employment”

A Light in Winter

By Emily Oppenheimer

As the coldness of winter sets in, I found a place that warms the hearts of the city. I ventured into a place with brightly coloured walls with a door that read “There’s a beautiful mess inside”. I assumed the sign was to let visitors know what to expect when entering these four walls, but I left realizing that sign was meant to be carried over each and every one of us. Life can feel overwhelming, chaotic, and simply messy at times, but God sees beautiful.

This haven is known as Beth Uriel, meaning “House of Light” in Hebrew. Beth Uriel, a residential facility, has become a light and a beacon of hope for the 26 young men between the ages of 18-24 that call it home. Beth Uriel envisions each and every young man being independent, self-suficient, and one step closer to obtaining their dreams.

Photo Credit: Stewart Harris via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Stewart Harris via Flickr cc

Beth Uriel desires to give quality educational opportunities at both the secondary and tertiary levels to each individual in their program. Beth Uriel sees every young person just as that, an individual, with unique talents and skills. No two of God’s creations are the same, and Beth Uriel seeks to give each person the opportunity to discover their own passion and decide on a career they wish to pursue.

Wilson Johnson, a 24-year-old resident at Beth Uriel, is excited to pursue a career in Human Resources. Wilson said he has always been a people-person, but now has the excuse to dress professionally while doing what he loves. Another young man by the name of Sipho, has decided to become a pilot for South African Airways, and Beth Uriel gladly plans to encourage and equip him in his pursuit.

Beth Uriel doesn’t stop at meeting the basic needs of these young men. Instead, they ask how they can help develop their capabilities. How can we help these individuals become the men that God intends them to be? The greatest investment we can make in this life is into the lives of others.

If you are asking yourself how you can cross paths with these young men and help them along their journey? Beth Uriel is looking for tutors to help strengthen and sharpen their skill sets, whether it is in maths, Xhosa, or Afrikaans. Tutoring might seem small and inconsequential, but actually it can be the greatest gift given to another. It is one small gesture can change the direction of a life. It might be only thing needed for Wilson and Sipho to change a dream into a reality.

As a tutor, maybe you will meet Wilson or Sipho. Soon after, you might discover a new friend – somebody to partner and walk with on the road of life. Managing Director, Lindsay Henley, captured this truth as she pointed to a sign above our heads that read, “He who wants to bring about change, has to learn to be changed by those whom he wants to change first.” She said this would be her advice to potential volunteers. We must always listen and lay our assumptions aside when our paths cross with another one of God’s creations.

For more information on Beth Uriel or how to become involved with tutoring or mentoring, please email

Feedback from a Paradigm Shift student

This week, we’re going to be sharing feedback from some of our initiatives! Today, we hear from Adele, a small business owner who has been attending our Paradigm Shift business training and discipleship course, hosted at the Common Ground Wynberg venue every week for the past 9 weeks… So what did she think of the course?

Here’s what other Paradigm Shift students had to say:

“I never used to read the bible or pray in a group. But this programme boosted my spirit, vision, faith, taught me to be a man of character who sets his own goals, and tackles every problem with prayer. I have learnt to save and respect the little money I get for it comes by God’s grace. Thanks to Paradigm Shift I now know that God is almighty. I have found direction. In God I trust.” – Mafaro

“This programme is awesome, thank you to all the volunteers that have given their time to us. When I first saw the advert in the community paper I was immediately drawn to it, looking back now and having now learnt about the Holy Spirit, I can see that He lead me here. The course is wonderful, because it not only teaches you about business but also about the spiritual side and how it can impact your business interactions. This course has truly given me food for thought and direction, something I prayed for a while ago. Thank you very much!” – Silvana

“This was a really great course I must say. Before this my business was dead. Now my business ideas are alive again and I’m reinspired to start anew and this time to do things properly but most important with the help of my lord Jesus Christ and to apply Godly principles too every sector of my business.” – Terence

Breaking the cycle

Last month, 20 prisoners from Pollsmoor graduated from Network’s job readiness programme, equipping them with the skills they’ll need to find employment after their release. In this post, Deborah Cuthbert takes a  look at some of the obstacles ex-offenders face and how we can support them as a community.

On Freedom Day in March this year, the president caused quite a stir when he announced the early release of  approximately 14 651 prisoners from prisons across the country. I’m sure many a law-abiding citizens heart skipped a beat when they heard this news. But have you ever considered that the prisoners and their families are concerned about this as well?

Let’s take a look at the story of Jo*.  Jo is one of these prisoners considered for early release.  He has been socialised into the prison system where virtually all decision-making has been taken away from him. Imagine being told when you must wake up and when you must go to sleep, when you must eat and when you must exercise, when you can see your family and when you can speak to your friends.All of these decisions have been taken out of Jo’s hands.  He hasn’t had to make any decisions for himself. Instead, he’s learnt to constantly be on his guard, watching his back for attackers.

Read more…

The Big Issue

By Liesel Muller

A few months ago, after having asked God to open my eyes to the needs around me and show me how I can help, I was browsing through a Big Issue mag I buy on and off and my eye glanced over the monthly vendor profile.

Featured this month was Mr Kholisile. He talked about his dreams, his desires for his future, how he loves to go to church with his family on weekends, about his wife who is also a vendor and about his other skills he would like to make use of such as capentry and painting. And he explained his desire to one day get his loader license to increase his earning potential.

Although I took note of this last point, as a travel industry employee and summer beach lover what caught my eye and pulled my heart strings was that Mr Kholisile’s biggest dream for his family was to go to Camps Bay. His BIGGEST dream! A place I go every day in Summer! And I thought – I’m sure I can make that happen!

Table Mountain

After much perseverence and ‘knocking on several doors’ one of my contacts finally agreed to meet the family. The meeting went well and then the World Cup arrived and Camps Bay was booked up! After much waiting, praying for hope and for God to intervene, I admit I harrassed them a little and finally one of the directors of a company agreed to cut through the bureacracy and hand over his own private home.

A few weeks later Mr and Mrs Kholisile and their four beautiful children arrived for their weekend stay.

I shared the story with my home group and a few people felt the desire to contribute to a food hamper for the family. It was small but enough to feed a family for a weekend (after all we all know you don’t need much).

We have also researched the costs of the loader license but at this stage my request goes beyond my home group to anyone who feels strongly about skills empowerment. The loader license is a 14 day course and costs R2150 after which the company will assist with finding employment.

Should anyone be interested in assisting financially, please contact me and I will arrange this through the social worker at Big Issue.

Thanks, Liesel (082 450 9747)

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