Four years ago, Jenifer Qina, a young girl from Tsomo in Chris Hani region, joined the National Youth Services programme to work for her family. NYS was created to develop the skills, knowledge and ability of young people to enable them to make the transition to adulthood. It is also to improve youth employability through opportunities for work experience, skills development and support to gain access to economic and further learning opportunities especially to disadvantaged and undeserved communities.
Qina is a last born out of five children. Just like any other child that grows up in villages, she has been disadvantaged in life in many ways. She was raised up by a single mother after her father left them while she was two years old.
Her mother had to struggle raising them without any source of income. Her mother narrated on how she used to struggle to get something to eat for her children.
“I raised these children very hard. I used to sell fruit and vegetables on the streets in town. It was not easy at all. Sometimes, business was so dry to an extent that I would come home with nothing. I always prayed to God to help my children” said Mama Qina.
In June 2012, her prayers were answered when Jenifer joined the NYS programme as a mechanical student at the departmental mechanical depot where she was taught the basic mechanical skills.
She spent two years as her contract expired. In 2014, she joined the Accelerated Professionals Trade and Competence Development (APTCoD) programme as a Road Worker Aid.
Because of her dedication to her work, in 2015, she got a permanent senior post within the department where she was appointed as a Senior Road Worker Aid. In this new post, Jenifer is the only female driver in the department that drives heavy duty trucks (code 14).
Jenifer is grateful to the Lord for giving her such an opportunity in life. “We grew up struggling at home. My mother used to sell fruit and vegetables in order to buy food and clothes for us.
Life was very difficult. But things changed in 2012 when I got that NYS contract. From that moment I knew that my life would never be the same” she said.
She further said “In 2015, I was hired as the first code 14 female driver in this region. After that appointment, I asked my mother to stop going to the stand in the taxi rank. I give my mother money every month for her to buy food and other stuff that she wants”.
She said “My mother suffered a lot for us, she used to seat in that stand in rainy, windy, hot and cold days. I thank the department for improving my life. Ever since I joined this department, I have acquired so many skills”.
Chris Hani Regional Director, Zamile Kalako, applauded Jenifer for the hard work.
“I want to applaud her for her dedication to her work. I am always at awe when I see her driving that big truck.”
“It is really encouraging to see young women taking up positions of work which were previously male dominated. Finally, as the region, we are so dedicated to women empowerment” said Kalako.
By Sibusiso Kewu, Sivuyise Ntuli
and Luvo Sandlana