Sharing basic skills

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Domestic workers, gardeners and jobless taught English

SARAH KINGON

COMPELLED to action in view of growing unemployment, Hester Browne spends three evenings a week educating those who did not have the opportunity earlier in life.

Volunteering to share her knowledge with others, Browne teaches basic English reading, writing, speaking and maths at Vincent Methodist Church.

Most of the people who join her group are domestic workers or gardeners, while others are unemployed and some have completed school and wish to advance their skills.

“Hundreds of people are looking for reliable, trustworthy domestic workers.

“On the other hand, I have a list of more than 600 people desperately looking for employment, but I only manage to find work for 20 to 25 people per year,” Browne said.

VOLUNTEER TEACHERS: James Matambo and  Hester   Browne  run a night school teaching basic English reading, writing and speaking and maths to those who did not have the opportunity to complete their schooling Picture: SARAH KINGON
VOLUNTEER TEACHERS: James Matambo and Hester Browne run a night school teaching basic English reading, writing and speaking and maths to those who did not have the opportunity to complete their schooling Picture: SARAH KINGON

She took over the running of the night school 17 years ago when the opportunity arose.

“At that stage, I didn’t even help my own children with their homework.

“I didn’t want to pray about the running of the school because I was scared that that was what God wanted me to do.

“I eventually decided to give it a try. When I arrived and saw all the people staring at me, I found it daunting. But by the end of the first lesson, I felt so rewarded.”

Encouraged by stories of progress, Browne continues to impact many lives every year.

James Matambo has worked as a caretaker at Vincent Methodist Church since the school officially started 20 years ago.

At that stage, he was barely literate and his English was very poor. Now he assists Browne in the teaching of lessons. “The school is good for me. I enjoy it. Mrs Browne called me to assist these people. I have never been at school before and it is difficult to learn. But now I can speak English and Xhosa, which is great,” Matambo said.

Browne said she decided to run the classes in the evenings.

“These people are so dedicated and loyal. Some came here and weren’t able to write their own names, or sign documents or read.

“This is humiliating. Now many of them can help their children with their homework,” Browne said.

She also gives basic cooking lessons and will assist in skilling domestic workers in basic household tasks upon request.

“Quite a few people I have helped now have bread on the table but I need to find more people employment,” Browne said.

She has a list of people who could competently work as receptionists, dish washers, domestic workers and gardeners.

Browne is in need of people who can volunteer to teach basic computer skills, and is also looking for donations of functioning, old computers.

Classes run from Monday to Wednesday, starting at 6pm.

If you are in search of someone to work for you or would like to find out more about the school, contact Browne on 083-472-5773.

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