Women’s Circle offers more than just training

Women from across Cape Town completed a three-month training course in either sewing, hairdressing or beauty therapy, thanks to The Women’s Circle.

Thirty women have a greater chance of generating an income, thanks to the continuation of a training programme offered by The Women’s Circle.

On Thursday May 5, the women graduated at a ceremony held at the Dulcie September Minor Hall in Athlone, after completing a three-month course in sewing, beauty therapy and hairdressing.

The pilot project for these training courses started in August last year as an initiative of The Women’s Circle, a network of learning centres across several low-income communities.

The training is supported by the Institute for International Cooperation of the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband, more commonly known as DVV International.

DVV International provides worldwide support for youth and adult education. It is funded by the German government, the European Union and various other donors.

Dominique Camphor from Bridgetown was among those who completed the hairdressing course.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, she said: “I lost my job a few months ago, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do this training. Hairdressing is my passion, and I hope to own my own hair salon one day.”

Faatima Ismail, 50, said one was never too old to learn. She was part of the beauty-therapy group.

“I am all for youth empowerment, but one is never too old to learn. I am proud to say that I completed this course as a 50-year-old. I didn’t think I had it in me, but I was encouraged by the facilitators.”

Bernadine Solomon, who also completed the beauty therapy-course, said a new world opened up to her.

“We were taught how to do manicures, pedicures and massages. We needed to learn the theory in order to do the practical. I have learnt that it is not just about outer beauty but our health as well. It was really a holistic experience, and not just one aspect. We learnt the scientific names of our body parts,” she said.

Faseega Williams said they had learnt new skills and found a safe haven.

“We are like a family. The Women’s Circle is like a sanctuary. It’s not just an opportunity for learning but for personal growth as well.”

Daryl Braam, a representative of DVV International, attended the graduation ceremony. He agrees with Ms Williams that the learning went beyond just acquiring new skills.

“This is not just about skills training but community upliftment. There is a learning and social aspect to it. This is community education at its best.”

The Women’s Circle’s Amina Rajap said: “Our organisation is inclusive, and all we ask is that once you are trained, you must make use of your skill. Apart from the courses already on offer, we are looking at introducing cabinet making in the near future. Some trainees also come back and offer their time for free as facilitators.”

Washiela Harris, the Ward 82 councillor in Tafelsig, said she attended the graduation to support the women from her area.

“This is how one brings change to the community. When I heard the women speak, I realised this is not just about skills training but also about an escape from the harsh realities in our communities and homes. I’d like to encourage the women to apply for grant-in-aid from the City of Cape Town, as they need to sustain themselves. It’s so amazing when organisations, the private sector and the City can come together to effect positive change,” Ms Harris said.

The three groups had to design a poster describing their training. Here the hairdressing group shows what they came up with.
The sewing group shows what they have learnt.