Meet 37-year-old Tomas Shilongo from the Oshana Region. Having completed his Grade 12 at Iipumbu Senior Secondary School in 2001, Shilongo decided he wanted to improve his results.
“In 2002 I came to Windhoek to improve my Grade 12 results. However, I soon realised that I would need to find a job first and my first job that I got in Windhoek was at Ramatex as a machine operator, where I worked in the spinning department and the Rhino Garment department for four years until 2006,” said Shilongo.
“When Ramatex closed, I had no job and went with one of my friends to the Pionierspark site hoping to find a job. It is during this time that I met Matheus Elago, who was the Men-on-the-Side of the Road (MSR) fieldworker at MSR at that time and he explained to us what MSR was doing. “I then decided to join in October 2007. When I joined I participated in the training offered by MSR to improve my chances to get a job.”
In 2008 he was given the opportunity to work at MSR as fieldworker, a position he still holds. “MSR has enhanced my quality of life. Before I joined MSR I did not even know how to answer the telephone. Currently I’m computer literate and I have the skills to work with different kinds of people,” said Shilongo.
“MSR really changed my life. I’m now an independent person, who gets paid a monthly salary and I’m able to help my family. I’m currently studying towards a certificate in office administration,” Shilongo said.
From streets to cranes
Erastus Nujoma, 33, joined MSR in 2010 when he was 26. Incidentally, it was Shilongo who introduced him to MSR. “I went because I wanted to improve my standard of living. I also struggled to get a job, because although I completed my Grade 12, I was unskilled,” Nujoma related at the re-launch of MSR’s new logo and strategy.
“At the time of joining, I wanted to be a qualified electrician,” he recalled. MSR paid for Nujoma to attend classes at KAYEC, where he received training in electrical installation.
“After the training I got a job as an electrical assistant. The support I got from MSR enabled me to get a job, which then enabled me to go to South Africa for training in heavy earthmoving machinery. I’m currently working as a crane operator and driver for a bricklaying company,” said Nujoma.
“Through MSR I was exposed to many opportunities, which I might not have had if I did not join them. I’m thankful to MSR and I’m encouraging other unemployed people to join MSR,” Nujoma concluded.
MSR was established in 2007 with the aim of providing support to men gathering at job sites around Windhoek and to link them to training and job opportunities. Since then, more than 1 100 men have registered as members of MSR.
The non-profit organisation now also aims to include an ICT skillset as part of its vocational training programme and have opened its doors to women.
“As an organisation that’s been in existence for less than ten years, we realised that we had to grow with the times and become inclusive to all Namibians, who are affected by unemployment. Hence our goal is to connect the unemployed with work opportunities by upskilling them in areas where they show promise,” concluded Crystal Beukes, chief executive officer of MSR.
“Bank Windhoek, as a long standing partner of MSR, helps the project realise the goal of connecting people with employment opportunities and providing them with skills required in the job market. It is humbling to be part of such grassroots initiatives that aim to improve the lives of disadvantaged in our society.
“More than 200 unemployed men are registered in the MSR database and the organisation also acts as an intermediate to put potential employers in touch with trained workers. MSR has also started supporting school dropouts to finish their schooling and now invites women to participate in its various programmes.
“Bank Windhoek is proud to be a project partner and are committed to support MSR in its future endeavours and see more men and women able to feed their families,” said executive officer of marketing and corporate communication services at Bank Windhoek Jacquiline Pack
Bank Windhoek donated N$225 000 to MSR in the 2015/2016 financial year. “Since MSR’s inception, Bank Windhoek and its holding company, Capricorn Group, have supported MSR, not only by contributing annually financially, but also supplied various support services when the need arose,” Pack concluded.