Bridging Gaps, Building Futures: Waumbe's Mission For Youth

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In a world where knowledge is power, Mdumiseni Menze and Delphino Machikichowit took it upon themselves to emphasise the importance of education to children in the community of Fisantekraal in the Western Cape.


Fisantekraal is a small township located around 10 kilometres northeast of Durbanville and about 40 kilometres northeast of central Cape Town.

Like many communities in South Africa, Fisantekraal faces several challenges including high levels of unemployment and crime. The community also has a high dropout rate in its schools. 

The Waumbe Youth Development Centre was established in 2015 by Mdumiseni Menze and Delphino Machikichowith to combat the high dropout rate in schools and emphasise the importance of education to the younger members of the community. The implementation of various programmes assists in their goal of addressing the root causes of the challenges facing Fisantekraal. 

They would share pamphlets of different higher education institutions in South Africa, educational opportunities and information with school children in the community from the boot of Menze’s car. 

Waumbe, a Swahili word meaning "Build them," is dedicated to developing purpose-driven African youth and has assisted thousands of young people living in their community by empowering them with the knowledge and skills needed for success. 

We do this to give the youth a space in the community of Fisantekraal where education is one of the fundamentals needed to secure a bright future

Careers Portal spoke to Curt Van Schalkwyk, operations manager for the organisation to learn more about how Waumbe assists the young people in their community. 

Curt's journey with Waumbe began in 2018 when he enrolled in one of their end-user computer learnership programs. However, the facilitator of the course was just three days into the course. Curt approached Menze to offer his services to potentially facilitate the course. 

Menze agreed to the request from Curt who then facilitated the course to more than 40 young people. Curt explains that they took every opportunity afforded by Waumbe and is currently a final year Bachelor of Education Degree student at the University of South Africa. 

Waumbe runs several programmes including skills development courses, tutoring programmes, enlightening career exhibitions, and impactful training programs. 

They offer learnerships which cover telecommunications, end-user computing, job readiness training and other skills development courses to upskill youth in the community. 

They also run the Waumbe achiever awards which acknowledge learners for their hard work to motivate learners. There are four schools in Fisantekraal namely, the Fisantekraal High School, Aquila High School, Trevor Manuel Primary and Fisantekraal Primary School.  

The organisation runs Career Expos where youth interact with people and gain insights into different career paths. These events offer valuable networking opportunities for learners and allow them to gather information about job openings, educational programmes, and professional development courses.

Recognising the vital role of holistic development, Waumbe extends its work and runs sports and fitness clubs, as well as nurturing minds, chess clubs and dedicated homework support programs.

Waumbe’s work was recognised by the Provincial government in the Western Cape in 2017 when they were awarded the Bronze Award in the Western Cape 2017 Youth Excellence Awards. 

The organisation serves as implementing partner for the YearBeyond programme as well as the Learning Trust. 

The YearBeyond programme seeks to provide unemployed youth with meaningful work experience and a view to further studies or work while encouraging a culture of service to your community.

The Learning Trust provides training, mentorship and coaching in a variety of organisational development areas, and provides platforms for sharing and collaboration amongst After School programmes that serve young people in underserved communities.

Youth Capital Project Manager Kristal Duncan-Williams says businesses want to hire young people but often find that they are ill-equipped with the workplace skills required such as communication skills, time management and basic workplace etiquette.

Skills programmes, like those offered at Waumbe, help fill this gap. They also provide young people with the opportunity to build self-confidence and resilience, and offer an opportunity to expand their social networks, opening up exposure to knowledge and resources they wouldn't otherwise have had.

Duncan-Williams says when these types of programmes are done well, employers will often comment on how young people who have come through them are more able to settle into the world of work, with less support needed from the employer.

In our work at Youth Capital, we have engaged with hundreds of young people over the last 5 years and young people who have gone through these programmes are notably more confident to speak up and possess enhanced communication skills.

As the demand for a skilled workforce continues to grow, it is imperative to recognise the pivotal role that skills programs play in bridging the gap between employers and young job seekers. Waumbe works to impart knowledge, purpose, and opportunity to the community of Fisantekraal.


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