A solution for unemployment – Bloemshelters’ Program for Holistic Development

At Bloemshelter we have learned that it does not help training people and then telling them to go look for non-existing jobs, we rather direct our way of thinking into the direction of supporting the person to create his own employment. When an individual can create his own livelihood, to support himself and his family,
it releaves the pressure of the authorities and economy and he becomes a proud and participating citizen, taking ownership for his future.

We have developed a program, in partnership with the University of the Free State, which is focussed on non-traditional learners. It can apply for all levels of education, since the residents of Bloemshelter varies from illiterate persons, to persons having 3 degrees. We have named the program: – “Program for Holistic Development”. The person, as a whole, has to be supported. Being unemployed, vulnerable and homeless, is very traumatic for any person. The program consists of 3 legs – a spiritual leg – addressing hang-ups, hurts and habbits (Celebrate Recovery), an entrepreneurship leg (Young Entrepreneurs), and an action learning pathway ( Global University of Life Long Learning) . The first level is a 4 months certificate program and the second level 12 months diploma program, rewarded at a graduation ceremony at the UFS.
During this “Program for Holistic Development” the participants are being facilitated to discover something, they themselves have a passion for. This passion then becomes the dream that they should follow. The proses takes place in the form of group sessions and individuals identify what they can develop to create their own livelihoods.

Through this action learning pathway tremendous learning and discovering takes place and transformation is evident in the participants. We have our own market where learners exhibit and sell their products. So they experience what a market requires. Part of the program is also financial accountability.

We have worked long and hard to find a method to support the bigger part of the community, who never had opportunities and resorces: the discoureged job seekers, drop out persons as well as disabled- and vulnerable people.

The Program for Holistic Development is now packaged and researched, we would like to duplicate it in communities, where unemployment is evident and rising every day. With this program we can make a difference in the hardships of our people. This is a tool to turn around the constant decay of people in need.

This venture was made possible by partnerships with the UFS, networking with many other NGOs, many bussinesses, private people and lots of volunteers. The residents of the shelter continues to make an enormous contribution towards this project.

Bloemshelter is a NPO caring for 100 abused and homeless people daily, with no goverment grant or lotto funding. We provide shelter, food, counselling and opportunities to develop themselves, get back their dignity, develop their own livelihoods and get back into society, strong enough to cope. We do not have the financial capibility to go and duplicate this program in other areas. Financial support is needed to enable us to take this very powerfull tool and give hopeless people the opportunity to create an income to sustain themselves and their families.

This is a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people. As soon as we start, it will grow bigger and better. This process will create learning opportunities, job opportunities, markets to sell their products and strong people who will respect themselves and others and be able to take care of themselves.

An Action learning community was established at Bloemshelter. The UFS have affiliated with the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) and supports 13 participants who have embarked on a Pathway towards Holistic Development. GULL is an international network organization, that supports and rewards lifelong learning. To facilitate large scale participation, GULL only works with affiliated organisations who use GULL’s system for action learning to develop their own pathways to professional certification. GULL’s primary role is to recognize and certify evidence of learning and application. This arises as participants use and apply action learning and then cascade their experience to others. The evidence typically relates to change, impact and transformation and the objective is to enable participants and other stakeholders in the learning process to advance and improve. These participants have progressed on the pathway and received recognition for passing the Level 2 certificate component on a Professional Bachelor’s degree which entails action learning. In order to grow in learning and change, the Pathway to Holistic Development, includes three legs, namely spiritual, personal and professional development. The professional development entails the development of entrepreneurial skills in order to gain personal and professional viability and create their own livelihood. The participants are now working towards receiving their Diploma Level. During a graduation session, which formed part of the annual Community Engagement Award Ceremony at the UFS, these participants presented a digital story as testimony of their dreams, the change, impact and transformation they underwent. According to Izak Botes, /GULL provides opportunity to make a difference in our community”/. This is a life changing event in the lives of the homeless ladies at the shelter. Now they have hope for a better future through participation in lifelong action learning.

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