Uplifting young women through collaboration

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    4 min read

    Erinvale Estate Hotel & Spa in Somerset West has appointed a young woman from Macassar as a permanent staff member, the result of a collaboration with the Imibala Trust. Nineteen-year-old Eugenia Wyngaardt is now part of the rooms division and the front desk teams.

    Social responsibility is one of Erinvale’s pillars and the hotel has always been actively engaged in the upliftment of its surrounding communities in the Helderberg region. It found synergy with the work of the Imibala Trust, a local, registered non-profit organisation, and the trust became Erinvale’s chosen beneficiary.

    Eugenia Wyngaardt

    Imibala’s focus is to help impoverished children of school-going age in the Helderberg basin through several programmes intended to make a difference in their lives. This includes partnering with select schools to offer additional learning programmes that are complementary to the school curriculum of both primary and high school pupils. Through fundraising efforts Erinvale contributes to Imibala’s important work.

    Recently Imibala’s Learner Advancement programme launched two projects aimed at preparing matriculants for the world of work, with a particular focus on the hospitality industry. “This was the ideal opportunity for Erinvale to become involved on a deeper level and we designed an in-house training collaboration with Imibala,” says Erinvale HR Manager Debbi Massyn. “Through this collaboration, Imibala sends interns to us so that they can immerse themselves in the hotel trade and learn first-hand, and in a practical way, about certain jobs, as well as how the industry works. We are delighted that Eugenia, who went through the programme at Imibala, and came to us as an intern, has now been employed at Erinvale fulltime.”


    The Smart Lead Programme

    Smart Lead, which incorporates the Mentorship Programme, aims to build resilience among matriculants despite their circumstances and challenges, while enabling them to bounce back after any setback. It is also designed to provide them with the tools they need to be ready for the word of work.

    Participants attend classes after school where they learn about leadership, unlocking their potential, branding themselves and are also introduced to enriching and educational experiences such as volunteer projects for the homeless.

    Learner Advancement facilitator, Pieter Titus interviewed Eugenia when Imibala presented the Smart Lead Programme to Grade 9 pupils from Macassar Secondary in 2018, and she was chosen to participate. “Eugenia was different from her group members in many ways right from the start, “he says. “She was the link between Imibala and her school to make sure that all communication went smoothly to put the logistics in place for our sessions at Imibala on Thursdays. Eugenia never made excuses for her circumstances, and she always made sure that she performed at her best to get the most out of the experience. She had a tremendous setback in her Grade 11 year, but this did not hold her back and she went on to complete Grade 12. Today she is doing well in the world of work because of her perseverance.”

    Wyngaardt was placed at Erinvale as an intern on the 1st of March this year. In the Rooms Division, she was allocated the position of trainee room attendant and from there she was moved to the front desk as a trainee receptionist. After four months of training, she was appointed to the rooms division and the front desk.

    “My experience at Erinvale has been amazing and I have learnt so much in these few months,” says Wyngaardt. “My goal is to achieve success here and create a future for me and my daughter. This journey has taught me that life is not about expecting, hoping and wishing; it’s about being and becoming. I also learnt that what you believe in, you can achieve.”

    The collaboration has been rewarding for everyone concerned and is set to continue. “At Erinvale, we are deeply connected to the communities around us, and giving back is woven into all that we do,” says GM Debbie-Lee Cockrell. “Watching Eugenia learn and grow and discover her potential is what our work with the Imibala Trust is all about. We look forward to discovering new talent and playing our part in uplifting and empowering more young women in our surrounding communities and beyond.”