It never ceases to amaze FleetWatch just how varied and dynamic the contribution is from various companies in our sector towards enhancing the lives of the communities of South Africa. Here is another example which stands out as exceptional.
It relates to a life skills programme called Bridging for Life which was created in 2010 and is managed by Valued Citizens Initiative (VCI), an NGO founded in 2001 with the aim of developing citizenship education in public schools. It is accredited by the Gauteng department of higher education and has been supported by TATA for more than five years.
Through the Bridging for Life programme, learners are equipped with essential life skills which range from emotional intelligence, effective communication, self-leadership and management, career development and citizenship education to ensure academic resilience. The programme has proven its effectiveness over the years in assisting learners through the transition from high school to institutions of higher education and training.
Commenting on Tata’s involvement in this programme, Len Brand, Executive Director of TATA International in Africa, says: “It is part of the TATA value system to touch and do business with communities in a way that helps them to develop and grow in a sustainable manner.
“We aim to do business in a manner that uplifts and creates entrepreneurs and leaders, because if you create leaders, they tend to uplift communities automatically. This is one of the reasons why we continue to work with VCI. Through the Bridging for Life Programme we are on our way to creating leaders that in turn uplift their communities.”
The fruits of all this were recently revealed at a certificate ceremony held at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Senate House with close to 100 learners from Alexandra High and Windmill Park High School attending. The learners, in their second and final year of the programme, received certificates hand out by Len Brand in recognition of the effort put into developing themselves over the past two years.
During the ceremony, Antonio Lopes, a learner from Windmill Park High School, shared his gratitude for what he has learned from the programme. “I am thankful and grateful to VCI and TATA for taking the time to impart knowledge and essential life skills on us. From this programme, I have learned to do better, to not be satisfied with mundane results and to strive to make an impression and be a better influence in my community,” he said.
Another student, Thapelo Nxumalo, a Grade 12 learner from Alexandra High School, gave a speech titled “Having a Voice” in which he shared words of encouragement. Here is an extract from his speech: “Listening is expensive because it is a skill. These past two years I have learned that my voice is my strength and it is a powerful weapon which is often taken for granted. Our voices can be used to conquer the world. That is why it is important to use your voice positively because the human voice is the most perfect instrument of all.”
The morning’s events included testimonies by WITS university alumni who were sponsored through the TATA University Scholarship Programme and an inspiring key note address by motivational speaker and author, Linda Ntuli, who had the learners and guests hanging onto his every word as he shared his words of wisdom.
Founder of Valued Citizens Initiative, Carole Podetti Ngono expressed her passion in her vote of thanks when she said, “At VCI we create programmes which generate meaningful relationships with our learners and sponsors which exudes trust, honesty, respect, love, support and care for the work that we do. CSI initiatives are all about giving of yourself, with your heart and soul to ensure you touch someone else’s life. We believe investments of this nature contribute to reducing high university dropout rates which currently stand at 40%.”
Well done to Tata and to VCI on this fine initiative. The trucking industry – as with most sectors in this country – requires astute and qualified leaders to ensure its professional sustainability. A programme such as this goes a long way to developing such leaders. Salute!