HELA YALO KA SPANE: TACKLING YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE FREE STATE

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By Toki Mojahi

  • The Free State Provincial Government is addressing youth unemployment through the “Hela Yalo ka Spane” initiative, which aims to create job opportunities and contribute to the province’s economic growth.
  • Ms Toki Mojahi, one of the 83 social workers hired under this initiative, transitioned from various roles to becoming a dedicated social worker, providing crucial support during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Toki’s journey reflects the broader efforts of the initiative, showcasing the impact of providing stable employment and the essential services social workers offer to vulnerable communities in the Free State.

The Free State Provincial government has called on stakeholders within and outside the province to join forces in addressing the challenges of unemployment, particularly among the youth, through the “Hela Yalo ka Spane” initiative. This government programme aims to create job opportunities for young people, contributing to the inclusive growth of the provincial economy. In response to this call, the Free State Department of Social Development has hired 83 social workers, previously known as “Contract COVID-19 Social Worker Interns,” whose responsibilities included providing pre- and post-counselling support to learners and teachers affected by the pandemic.

One of these social workers is Ms Toki Mojahi, based in the Jagersfontein office, 120 km outside Bloemfontein, though she resides in Bloemfontein. Toki matriculated in 2001 and, while figuring out how to become a social worker, enrolled at the Central University of Technology (CUT) where she earned a National Certificate in Office Management. In 2003, she gained diverse experiences working as a debt collector, production clerk, and in a legal department. This work with people from different backgrounds sparked her passion for making a difference in their lives, leading her to enrol at UNISA and obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work in 2019.

In 2020, Toki was appointed as a Contract COVID-19 Social Worker Intern, responsible for trauma counselling, group work therapy, and support for learners and teachers. Her role included community work, awareness, prevention, and intervention campaigns. She provided psycho-social and emotional support, and bereavement counselling, and implemented childcare protocols in line with the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

As COVID-19 became less of a threat in 2022, Toki’s contract changed, and she served as a Generic Social Worker on contract, handling statutory work, foster care, family preservation services, and more. She engaged in community projects like “Sports Against Crime” in Botshabelo, cancer awareness with CANSA BFN, group work with psychotic patients at the Free State Psychiatric Complex, and caring for older persons at Lapologang Old Age Care Centre. Despite earning a salary comparable to that of an unqualified social worker, her passion for her responsibilities remained unwavering.

“In 2024, I was appointed permanently as a Generic Social Worker after having served the department for four years on contract. I have always been the type of person to care about those around me and always wanted a career where I could make a difference in their lives. Social workers are instrumental in making a difference in the world and in advocating for those who can’t always advocate for themselves. I am happy with the appointment because it will allow me to provide effective help, and I am very passionate, compassionate, and very considerate of others’ well-being,” she concluded.

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