Monday, September 5, 2011

Our Final Days...

Shortly before heading to the airport, we enjoyed one last meal with Lubabalo, Ari, and Therina. We had time to reflect and share stories. We had a life changing experience in South Africa that would have not been possible without the three individuals pictures with us above.

In the Western Cape, we interviewed residents of the Masonic Home, an accessible residence for QASA members also managed by QASA. Our responsibility was to survey residents in order to identify a strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Masonic Home.

We spent our final week working with QASA of Western Cape, based in Cape Town. We had the opportunity to learn more about the development of a new digital village, to interact with local leaders in the disability sector, and to sightsee a bit before returning home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Week 4 in Pictures

In Bloemfontain we visited the APD Kopano protective workshop. With many company contracts, the people with disabilities got involved in different jobs and received a salary as a result.
Mid-week, we assisted in a Job Training Workshop with people with disabilities. We facilitated group discussions regarding interview skills and preparation.
We enjoyed a evening out to dinner with employees of NCPPDSA and met two German students, also in South Africa for an internship.
Toward the end of the week, we met with Mr. Zingitwa at the Department of the Premier in the Free State Province. As the Assistant Manager in the Office on the Status of Disabled Persons, he provided insight into his employment history and the issues of local people with disabilities.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week 3 in Pictures!

During our stay in Durban, we experienced authentic South African braais. We grilled boerewors and enjoyed the company of many co-workers and friends.
At Green Office, we interviewed the workers in the company's GreenAble project that employs people with disabilities. The interviews shed light on the different resources available for the community. See our previous blog post for more details.
During one of our visits to QASA's Ashley Village, we gave a presentation on leadership skills to people with disabilities. The attendees were students in the QASA-run computer literacy program. Upon completion, the students become Microsoft-certified in computer literacy and improve the quality of their CVs.
Our stay in Durban included a few tourist ventures. We visited the Moses Mabhida Stadium, one of the 2010 World Cup venues. We bought tickets for the "Sky Car" and were lifted to the top of the stadium. There we got a great view of the Durban city and coastline, for miles upon miles!
But, it wasn't all fun and games...

Friday, July 29, 2011


This week, we have been working at the APD-Freestate in Bloemfontein. Our time here has focused heavily on the development of resume databases, which the NCPPDSA and QASA use to facilitate connections between unemployed people with disabilities and employers.

In "Bloom," we have attended workshops, reviewed databases, and interviewed people with disabilities who are seeking employment among other tasks. On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to participate in a job training workshop. Access to resources is a major obstacle in South Africa. Relevant literaure and internet access are not always readily available. The workshop was designed to provide people with disabilities access to employment resources.

To close the workshop, we gave a presentation on interview techniques. We conducted mock interviews as part of our discussion, which many of the attendees seemed to enjoy. As Cornell students, we certainly take for granted how easily we can access interview resources or sign up for an interview at Cornell Career Services.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Last Week in Pictures...

Over the weekend, we visited the Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Thanks to our fabulous guide Prakesh, we rubbed noses with impalas, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, lions, baboons, and many other exciting creatures!

Left to right: Chris, Kit, Pauline, Jacob, Lubabalo

Early in the week, we met with Pauline at the Tokologo Self Help Centre in Soweto (the largest township in South Africa). We created several resources for the Centre's residents to help with finding employment. Furthermore, we worked to assist in the development of a sustainable centre that would support residents through businesses on-site (laundry mat, store, newspaper office, etc).

We took time out of our schedule to visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto. Hector Pieterson was killed on June 16, 1976, at the age of 12 as he protested the implementation of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in South African schools. The memorial remembers resistance acts against (specifically the Soweto Uprising) the brutal Apartheid government.

Left to right: Kit, Lubabalo, Kepi, Justice, and Chris

One of the highlights of our week was a trip to the Hauteng North Digital Village. Each week, Kepi and Justice provide basic computer training for people with disabilities. They assist their students with resume development and maintain a resume database to connect their students with jobs. We spent our time at Hauteng North learning more about the center and making several suggestions to improve the efficiency and quality of the database.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

GreenAble: A Model of Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship

We have visited several QASA projects during our stay in South Africa, particularly self-help centres and digital villages. Yesterday, we spent the day at Green Office, a QASA partner and office supply company that focuses on managing office paper use in an environmentally friendly manner.We toured the facility and met the director of GreenAble, a cartridge collection entrepreneurship program that employs people with disabilities.

GreenAble hires people with disabilities as "agents," who collect ink catridges throughout the country. Green Office reuses many of these cartridges, while recycling those that are not reuseable. The company hires additional people with disabilities to disassemble used cartridges to ensure that the remnants are recyclable. Following our tour, we interviewed several employees.

We were both intrigued by the sustainability and potential of the GreenAble project. Not only will it create jobs for people with disabilities(women, in particular), but they (QASA and Green Office) have developed a model that could possibly work effectively in various companies throughout Africa.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Look at South African Bureaucracy...

Last week, we traveled to Pretoria, the political capital of South Africa, with Lubabalo and Lungelo from the National Council of People with Physical Disabilities of South Africa (NCPPDSA) to attend a meeting with Estelle Crawford of the South African Department of Labour. The relationship between the NCPPDSA and the Department of Labour focuses on decreasing the unemployment rate of people with disabilities. As stated, 99% of people with disabilities are unemployed, which makes them one of the most under-represented groups in the South African labour market. The Department of Labour has been subsidizing the salaries of several NCPPDSA employees, who work as career counselors by connecting people with disabilities with job opportunities throughout the country.

Officials from the Department of Labour criticized the contract with the NCPPDSA due to:

1) Its cost to the government
2) Its sustainability, or lack thereof.

The meeting was a means to discuss the relationship and to stress the need for the state’s continued support. At the end of the meeting, the Department of Labour agreed to continue subsidizing the salaries of the NCPPDSA workers. It is important to get South Africans employed, particularly those who have a disability. By getting people with disabilities into jobs, South Africa can move closer to living its legislated equality.