The Peoples Community Centre, just outside the town of Pennington, in KwaZulu-Natal, is an upliftment project which was set up by local pastor and is really helping to empower local communities.
The Saga Charitable Trust initially funded the land for this centre which now provides skills training in various trades, such as cement block-making, bricklaying, welding and plastering, as well as computer classes, a cookery school, literacy classes and the infamous sewing co-operative.
Many Saga guests are familiar with the sewing co-operative, which was previously part of the Jabula Saga Project. Now well established in its new location, the simple but effective programme continues to help unemployed women support their families through making and selling handicrafts. Women are enrolled onto a 9-month training course where they are taught to sew and also make articles from the most basic materials (such as discarded carrier bags!) At the end of the course, students graduate and receive their own sewing machine and start up pack of materials, so they can work from home and sell their products through the centre. There are now over 300 women in the co-operative who have not only learnt new skills and a means of supporting their families, but a new sense of pride and self-esteem in themselves.
The computer classes are proving to be particularly successful and there is now a long waiting list for these, with unemployed students of all ages taking part. The Trust also helped to set up a cookery School which provides students with the skills required to get work in catering.
The Peoples Community Centre has certainly come a long way and really is empowerment in action.