Gearhouse Kentse Mpahlwa Academy technical services students gave 100 % enthusiasm, initiative and commitment to the Cape Town branch’ s 67 minutes for Mandela initiative this year. The idea was to identify a children’s centre’ that the learners could visit; arrange a soccer game and provide a sound system to play music for the day.

One of the current 1st year students, Steven Jantjies, had been raised with the help of the NPO Bottelary Transformational Development centre; so the decision was made to keep the initiative “close to home” and meaningful for the student body. When the group approached the Centre with their idea, it turned out that the Centre was planning a woman’s day event on 1st August and the Gearhouse Youth event could be planned to coincide. The combination of events resulted in a bumper attendance of 80 mothers and 100 local youngsters.

The planning of the programme and the decisions on what to do with the monies raised was left entirely to the Academy students’ discretion. It turned out to be a “give back” event on a number of levels; not only Gearhouse to Bottelary but also student to student and graduate to student.

The fact that the mothers were there too made it extra special, which came across in Steven’s speech when he thanked all the moms who had given him food and somewhere to sleep and helped him while he was growing up. Steven managed to get himself through Matric under very difficult circumstances and his speech was aimed at motivating the youngsters never to abandon their dreams and to finish school. It was a real life example of hope for both the mothers and the kids. 

Academy graduate, Gareth Le Roux, also made a motivational speech about goals and hard work and shared stories from the church holiday club that he runs with kids in Mitchell’s plain. 

Hombakazi Pama (2nd year) sang the National Anthem….what a voice…what a moment! Nikita Mgudlwa (1st year) put together a presentation on 67 min for Madiba for the event….by herself.

The students played soccer and netball with the older kids, marbles with the little ones and later on, circle games were held with ALL the kids before the staff distributed meals donated by Gearhouse South Africa and sports items bought with donations from the Gearhouse staff in their individual capacities. 

Besides the fun with the kids, the 1st year students learned from the opportunity for some technical practice prepping and setting up all equipment. Second year students at the Academy specialise in the discipline of their choice, so the BARCO LED Mobile trailer-mounted screen from LEDVision was set up with great pride and accuracy by the LED Student (2nd year) Lukhangele Madolwana. Bruce Kinnear (an ex student and current Senior LED Technician at the CPT branch) had also taught the 1st year students how to set-up the screen in the warehouse so they were able to assist Lukhangele on-site. 

For the first time, the students experienced the auxiliary elements involved in putting an event together first-hand, such as establishing power sources, equipment placement, truck accessibility and restrictions, timing and logistical planning. 

67 minutes stretched into several hours and everyone involved benefitted in unforeseen ways. The Bottelary Centre’s children had a wonderful day with their new friends and the students experienced the warmth of giving back to the Community - but the biggest success of the day was the teambuilding aspect. Seniority levels were forgotten as everyone pitched in as equals….Senior technicians, Students and Managers alike, to make the day a success.

“I can’t emphasise the importance of such an experience…on so many levels,” says Lisa Smit, Training Officer for the Cape Town branch of the Academy. “The second years learnt how to supervise, how to crew boss without ‘bossing’ people around or doing it themselves…what to supervise and how to pre-empt the next step….without the pressure of a ‘client’. The first years took away real life event experience. The skills transfer and experiences gained are priceless and the students just want to do it again and again!

Story Robyn D’Alessandro, Photos courtesy Gearhouse Academy

Aug 25, 2015

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