Looking back over the past few months, my experiences seem almost surreal. The launch of our induction week in October this year seems a moment away. As academic project manager of the Amasondo Isibindi project in Johannesburg, its incredible to reflect on how much we've accomplished between October and now; how many mindsets have shifted and how many lives are being transformed so many of our learners will never see themselves in the way they have before the launch of the programme.
So what has changed? The learners have been challenged to be accountable for shaping their own futures. My team (Emanuela di Rito and Bradley Muttitt) and I worked hard to inspire the learners to take ownership for creating their lives consistent with their life vision statements. Their was much resistance, much debate, and finally an overwhelming sense that with the right mental model anything was possible.
This has only been possible through the adoption of action-learning, facilitation approach. We work with 80 learners. To optimise the transfer and internalisation of knowledge, we've identified and coached a learnership team who will support, encourage and guide their fellow colleagues.
The biggest challenge has been to equip learners with learning skills. Many learners have not seen the inside of a classroom in decades. We’ve employed a few creative strategies close the vide that exists between their expected level of learning ability and where they were at the onset of the programme. Much remains to be accomplished in this area.
The group is fairly diverse in terms of their disabilities. Irrespective of the nature of the physical challenges that our learners are facing, we are confident that the learners are well on their way to developing entrepreneurial traits.
The challenge ahead is daunting. A glance at the skills programmes that lie ahead have me and my team in constant dialogue about what the best approach would be to equip learners with the technical skills to run thriving small businesses.
When my team and I started in October, we were somewhat overwhelmed by challenge of transforming a group of 80 disabled learners into entrepreneurs; now we are overwhelmed by the energy, potential and possibility we encounter everyday.