Agape helps women empower themselves

Women of Agape Women Empowerment gather at their Saturday training workshop.

A non-profit organisation holds weekend training workshops in Wynberg and elsewhere across the city, helping refugee women from several African countries to create their own job opportunities.

Agape Women Empowerment is helping about 200 women uplift each other.

Founder Perky Umera is also the principal of Bright Student Learning Centre – a private school in Wynberg, Bellville and Fish Hoek for refugee learners. She started Agape when she noticed that many of her pupils’ parents – especially the single moms – were struggling to pay their children’s fees. As refugees, the women struggled to find employment, she said, but they had skills and just needed help seeing how they could profit from them.

The women meet once a month on Saturdays for training workshops, teaching each other how to bake, sew, cook, make wigs, install acrylic nails and more. They mentor each other and advise each other on career development ideas.

“Whoever has a skill to bring to the table, they present that week. They teach everyone, and then the ladies pay directly to that teacher that week, nothing goes to me,” said Ms Umera.

“Everyone benefits because the others are learning a new skill that they can make money from and the one teaching is making money from her skill. It’s that simple.”

The organisation uses the school’s classrooms on Saturdays for the workshops, and Ms Umera said the school helped to find opportunities for the women. One of them was paid to make tracksuits and graduation gowns for pupils.

Ms Umera said some of the women had learnt how to budget and save. The organisation has a stokvel for a few of the members.

“One of the women just started doing Uber, she saved enough to buy a car and become a driver.

“One also opened a canteen in her area. It’s working slowly but surely.”

Ms Umera said she hoped
Agape would nurture and empower the women to reach their full potential.