For Axola April, 26, from Table View, the last few years have been tough as he searched for work, taking on small jobs to make ends meet.
Now, thanks to an opportunity from Bergzicht Training, an NGO, he has completed the 10-week City & Guilds’ Professional Cooking and Food and Beverage Service Programme.
He also completed a three-week internship at Mulderbosch wine estate in Stellenbosch.
The City & Guilds’ Programme is a world-renowned qualification within the hospitality industry and is presented by The Private Hotel School (PHS) in Vlottenburg in collaboration with Bergzicht.
The NGO is based in the Winelands and helps poor, semi- and unskilled as well as unemployed people in the Western Cape to improve their lives with training in cooking, entrepreneurship, life skills and computers, among other things.
In 2011, before moving from Hamburg in the Eastern Cape to Cape Town, Mr April was unemployed. But instead of sitting at home, he volunteered at a day care for the elderly.
Three years later, and still unemployed, he moved to Cape Town to study early childhood development at the College of Cape Town.
“I studied for a year, but after failing three subjects and rewriting them in January 2015, I was told that I could only continue with my studies again in June of that year. I would fall behind too far, so I quit my studies and decided to look for work instead,” he said.
For a while, he as able to support himself by working in the film industry as a dolly grip assistant, but later started doing casting shoots to obtain more regular work, managing to secure some work as an extra in a few local and international movies. However, he was still barely getting by.
Then, a year ago, a friend who was studying psychology and doing an internship at Bergzicht Training told him about the organisation.
Mr April registered for the Home Management Programme and after completing it signed up for the City & Guilds’ Programme.
“I never pictured myself working in the hospitality industry as I have always enjoyed working with children, but I have enjoyed myself very much and have learnt a lot,” said Mr April.
“This is my passion now. It’s what kept me going when I wanted to quit. But I know completing this course will help me in future. Someday I would love to become a professional chef and open my own restaurant.”
Mr April hopes that his story will inspire others to also go after their dreams.
“You will have times of struggle in your life. Unfortunately you won’t just get what you want in life. So you have to know what your goals are and ask people for advice and support along the way. Most importantly, you have to have passion and the confidence to do what you want,” he said.