R1bn aid for rural folk
RESIDENTS of Umsinga in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, which is considered to be one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the province, are celebrating after becoming part of a R1billion empowerment boost.
The cash injection from the provincial government means empoverished communities will receive skills training in various work activities that will eventually put food on their tables.
MEC for Social Development Meshack Radebe said women in the area would receive skills in gardening projects, handwork and creative work.
Youths in the area are set to get training as motor mechanics so that cars can be fixed locally.
Umsinga is a rural area where there is little opportunity for growth and where the unemployment rate is currently 60percent.
Most homes in the region are headed by widows who have never been employed.
Poverty levels escalated over the past few years after many mines in Johannesburg closed down and mine workers were forced to return home.
A resident, Sibusiso Mvelase, said his family was a direct victim of the job cuts. He had his sights set on becoming a teacher "to turn around" the lives of his parents and siblings.
But early this year he, like many other pupils in the area, had to drop out of school. "I chose to leave school to find a job and help my mother, " he said.
He said the government project had given them all new hope.
Another resident, Sebenzile Shange, dropped out of school last year when her unemployed mother could not afford to buy her a school uniform.
Shange bust into tears when asked if she would like to go back to school next year, and said: "I was doing well in my studies. I had no choice but to drop out because my only school skirt was torn and the other kids were laughing at me."
Healthcare is another huge challenge in Umsinga.
There is only one clinic and people are forced to walk long distances to seek medical help.