Graduate engineers help empower Soweto community

The NGO identified the need for a community centre in Devland, Soweto that would also double as an education and training facility.

SMEC South Africa is providing on-site training for its graduate engineers and helping to build much-needed infrastructure for local communities, through its involvement with the Growing Up Africa initiative in Devland, Soweto.

Growing Up Africa, established by established by entrepreneur Deborah Terhune, engages local companies to become involved in its various projects.

The non-government organisation identified the need for a community centre in Devland, Soweto that would also double as an education and training facility.

SMEC South Africa Head of Group HR, Tumelo Molope said the model is not to receive donations and funds, but to acquire skills, expertise and materials in order to be able to meet the real needs of local communities.

SMEC South Africa Head of Group HR, Tumelo Molope.

SMEC South Africa Head of Group HR, Tumelo Molope.

Molope said: “As a broad-based consultancy specialising in engineering, construction and infrastructure development, the consultancy sought to focus on “one impactful initiative” as opposed to becoming involved in a plethora of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

A qualified structural engineer from the consultancy, in addition to various graduate engineers on bursary programmes sponsored by the consultancy, became involved with the design process of the community centre.

“Our graduate engineers were able to upgrade various homes in the area with materials leftover from the community centre project.

“This provided them with invaluable experience in interacting with the local community and their specific requirements and circumstances. A lot of our graduates come from similar areas, so it is particular gratifying for them to be able to give back to the local community in such a fashion,” Molope.

She said it is essential for student engineers to gain on-site work experience as it gives them insight into how their skills and expertise can benefit local communities.

“Our graduate engineers learn to grow and think on a new level of having to deal with real-world practicalities.

 

“In this way the initiative is mutually beneficial for all involved, as it is not only a great platform for educating graduate engineers, but it also provides a platform for local communities such as Devland to leverage much-needed infrastructure development,” she said.

The consultancy has tackled a range of CSR initiatives to date, including such flagship projects as renovating the Tirisano-Mmogo Primary School for the SA Medical & Education (SAME) Foundation.

The NGO completely-renovated a block of boys' and girls' bathrooms, all achieved through corporate sponsorships.

The NGO completely-renovated a block of boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, all achieved through corporate sponsorships.

A computer centre and classroom were built, along with library renovations and a completely renovated block of boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, all achieved through corporate sponsorships.

 

  AUTHOR
Themba Vukeya

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