WHEN Sail Africa Youth Development Foundation, a youth organisation dedicated to sail training and introducing young people into the ocean economy, partnered with iThemba Lethu to give 13 peer leaders the opportunity to learn to sail as an extra mural activity, no one would have thought what a life changing experience this would be for one young woman.

Nkaniso Mngadi, iThemba Lethu youth worker, Phindile Zuma (Owami’s mother), Owami Zuma and Jackie de Fin from Sail Africa.

 Over the past 10 years, Sail Africa, a youth organisation dedicated to sail training and introducing young people into the ocean economy, has been running various sailing courses and maritime experiences to encourage youngsters to foster a love for the sea through sailing. When approached to collaborate, iThemba Lethu, a local NGO implementing life skills education into the youth in six schools in Cato Manor, identified a small group of Grade 8 leaders from Wiggins Secondary, who expressed an interest in sailing.

Under the leadership of their youth worker, Nkanyiso Mngadi, they were offered a one-week holiday course in January. This proved successful and was extended to a week day school extra mural programme.

Sail Africa used funding from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation to expose the learners to the various sailing courses on offer, and this was supported by the Cato Manor Area Based Management office of eThekwini Municipality who provided lunch packs and transport. On completion of the course, Island View Shipping donated a vocational seamanship course to strengthen the intervention.

“Right from the beginning one young lady, Owami Zuma, stood out for her curiosity and interest. We asked to see her school reports and were blown away by the high standard of this young lady’s academic work,” said director, Jackie de Fin.

As Sail Africa has already assisted some young people to gain bursaries into maritime education, applying for the same for Owami was seamless.

Given her outstanding ability and her genuine interest in the maritime industry, Owami was offered a General Botha Old Boys Association bursary to Lawhill Maritime Academy in Simon’s Town where she joins another Sail Africa learner Menelisi Mkhize in 2018, up until 2020.