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This case study documents the approach and model for the Umzi Wethu Training Academy for Vulnerable Youth from its roots in Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, to three venues in the Eastern and Western Cape. Umzi Wethu means “our home” in Xhosa.

Umzi Wethu offers a “hand up” rather than a “handout”. The year-long programme provides comprehensive skills training and guaranteed job placement; at the same time it also incorporates health and wellness training, counselling, and wilderness excursions, all within a residential environment. In the words of its founder, “Umzi Wethu is able to transform vulnerable youth into confident, self-assured individuals working within the formal eco-tourism and hospitality sector.”

The document describes its work through the words of the author and of the founder, of the team at the Academy, of students, of graduates and of employees. Sections on Impact and The Future review lessons learned and plans for development of the approach.

This document is one of a number of publications highlighting NGO good practice and innovations from partner organisations supported by Oxfam in South Africa.

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