Reflecting on the Launch of Our Trade Skills Program

June 1, 2018

The guys are smiling. But inside we are all a little sad since Kristian Hagesæter (center pic) and his wife Maren wrapped up their time with us last week. For the past two years they have served us as volunteers from Norway. Kristian has spearheaded the startup of our trade skills course, while Maren has filled a number of teaching and administrative roles.

Here is what Kristian wrote about his work and stay in Cape Town earlier this month:

We wanted to do and be part of something completely different before it was too “late”. We weren’t sure what to do, but we were ready for a radical change and go somewhere there is a need. We knew our friends were going to volunteer at Hope Africa Collective and we totally liked the concept. Still, we didn’t know much of how it would be, what we would do and so on, but we felt like this was something for us and that God was calling us to come here and work. It was a leap of faith!

When we came, there was no Trade Skills program at all, but there was an idea and a vision. We started developing the idea and then building the facilities for the program, as well as getting everything we needed like tools and material. We made a curriculum and then started recruiting students for our first program. Now we are busy with our second group. We teach our students theoretical and practical about welding, carpentry, electrical and plumbing, as well as I’m also preparing for my colleagues to take over my part, as we’re ending our stay in Cape Town very soon.

The best part about the job is getting to know the students, spending time with them, learn who they are and where they come from. I can clearly see a change in character in the students after they have been in the program for a while. They become more confident, mature, willing to help, motivated and improved work ethics.

It’s like they figure out who they are and who they want to be. I think it’s because they, maybe for the first time, experience how it is to create something on their own, get a sense of achievement. They come to us without any, or very few skills, and in a very short time they can make things with their hands from their own ideas. It gives them a sense of pride.

It has been great to be a part of the process from the very beginning. From nothing to a complete program with facilities, employees and equipment. Being able to “shape” the program has been a lot of fun. And building the facilities was very exciting! Leading this program was a perfect match for me, as handyman work is what I know. I now believe that the skills I have gained in my life have had a purpose. I’ve been very lucky and blessed being able to do what I like to do. It’s nice to see that the students also appreciate being here and learning. Students have told us that being at HAC taught them that also black people have opportunities, and they appreciated that people here treat them equal to anyone else. That is quite special to hear.

Being here and working at HAC has meant a lot to me, it’s been a journey and I’ve learned so much, on a personal level as well. It’s a season in life I will always remember.

We thank God for all the lives that have been impacted by Kristian and his wife Maren in and through Hope Africa, and we pray His continued blessing upon the next season of their lives!


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Reflecting on the Launch of Our Trade Skills Program