Durban - Only months ago, the glass windows of a newly-built training workshop were smashed to shards after protesters from the local Cottonlands community went on the rampage over differences they had with LIV Village.
The institution, founded by former sports star Tich Smith, aims to provide opportunities for the impoverished community as well as about 150 orphans. While depending on donations, it also has income-generating enterprises in its effort to become self-sufficient.
Now, the windows at the workshop are fixed, looted equipment has been returned or replaced, and, this week an intake of 12 students will began a three-year welding course.
About 300 people had applied.
Also given a new opportunity are 20 people out of about 200 applicants for a culinary course.
“Things have calmed down. We are really just building relations. We are now having very healthy conversations, meeting with the community every two weeks,” general manager Chester Koyana told The Independent on Saturday, adding that the problems the community had faced were “part of the bigger change in South Africa at large”.
The dialogue, he said, “has given us the opportunity to dream again”.
Christopher Pewa was one of Monday’s intake.
“I first came here as a volunteer but they found something I had a passion for. I had done welding but only short courses. I’ve been in industry to get a bit of experience but I wanted further training.”
The training centre, on the same property outside the orphanage where a clinic was smashed and sewing and horticulture ventures were vandalised, is an example of recycling and innovation.
While the training centre building is essentially old containers, nicknamed
“Lego blocks”, desks and computers have been donated
while items such as welding stick holders have been
“It has cost us all R300 000. It would have been much more if we had made it all from bricks and mortar,” said Anne Meyer, who is responsible for training and skills development.
Broken table legs have been converted into cup-like devices to hold welding sticks and trolleys that carry welding machines are also the result of recycling.
Nokubonga Guliwe, who was part of the candidate selection process, said the courses removed obstacles for local people to better themselves.
“They don’t have money for tuition fees, for food and for transport. This facility is a walk away and they are given a meal.”
LIV Village learnt about the transport factor through experience recently when part of a screen printing course involved students travelling out of the area. Only nine out of 12 managed to complete it because of transport problems.
LIV Village’s community training programmes and the orphanage itself run on numerous partnerships in which companies often benefit, as well as on donations from businesses and individuals.