State of the Nation  2024


A career path through volunteering


Impact stories
Image: Happiness Itumeleng Letshele

High youth unemployment rates plague Mpumalanga, leaving young people like Happiness Itumeleng Letshele struggling to find work and contribute to their community. But thanks to government-backed initiatives like the Social Employment Fund (SEF), Happiness’s story has become one of hope and opportunity.

As part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, the SEF tackles unemployment by partnering with organisations like Afrika Tikkun, a non-profit dedicated to youth development. Afrika Tikkun’s 360° Cradle-to-Career Programme takes a holistic approach, addressing the health, education and future prospects of young people like Happiness.

The programme proved to be a much-needed lifeline when Happiness faced limited prospects after completing matric in 2021. Through the programme, the 21-year-old resident of Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) was able to volunteer at a local preschool. Here, she embraced various roles, from administrative tasks to assisting teachers and engaging with the children through interactive learning methods like songs and games.

Happiness's story highlights not just skills development but also the importance of ‘soft skills’ like confidence and problem-solving, which empower young people to approach work with professionalism and take on challenges.

Through the programme, Happiness was able to gain valuable work experience in a childcare setting while also gaining transferable skills to make her a more competitive candidate for future employment opportunities.

Your story matters!

Help us understand the impact of government initiatives by sharing your experience.

Submit your story