Nurturing a love for the sea for youngsters
IZIVUNGU-VUNGU MSC Foundation for Youth is the first school in South Africa to provide sailing opportunities for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Based in Simonstown near Cape Town and founded by three-time Olympian and multiple world sailing champion Ian Ainslie, the non-profit organisation offers free informal skills training for children from around the Peninsula aged between 11 and 18 years.
Foundation manager Jonathan Cole says: "It is very challenging taking kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, some of whom have a minimal education.
"We offer informal courses so that the kids can come occasionally over a period of years and eventually have a passion for the industry."
The school's name, Izivungu-Vungu, means sudden strong winds and was established in 2001. It is taking part in exhibitions at the SA Maritime Industry Conference in Cape Town. The exhibition started on Wednesday and will end today.
The event is hosted by the SA Maritime Safety Authority and the Department of Transport. It is themed "Delivering on South Africa's Maritime Agenda - A call for Action".
Through it, stakeholders are pleading for general discussions with the public to raise issues in the "unrecognised" sector.
Izivungu-Vungu offers training in sailing and social development projects, including musical activities.
Cole says their aim is to enhance the ability of students in technical sport.
"We are trying to nurture their love for the sea and provide an opportunity for those who cannot afford," Cole says.
He says there are more participants in summer than in winter.
"Currently we get 15 to 30 children at a time on a regular basis but this depends on the season," says Cole.
Former student and instructor of nine years Asanda Conjwa, 21, says sailing is his life. "I grew up in the school. I haven't experienced anything outside school."
Acquiring skills in high performance racing, boat building, navigation and maritime economics, Conjwa, of Khayelitsha, says despite gangs in the township, it is still a regular place.
"My community is regular and yes there are gangs, but the important thing is to just choose your friends wisely," says Conjwa. He is also encouraging his pals to join.
The school is hosted by the navy, groomed under the national yacht team Shosholoza and works with the Western Cape department of social development.
It also helps to rehabilitate awaiting-trial children by also teaching them music.
One of the valuable proteges of the foundation is the youngest London 2012 Olympics sailor Asenathi Jim, 20.
Transport Minister Ben Martins says they want to raise the profile of sailing.
"Students should be able to choose this industry as a career option," says Martins.
"Heightening the skills base of South Africans can give the unemployed hope and get citizens to be productive rather than depending on charity." - firstname.lastname@example.org