Thursday, April 11, 2013

No regrets

Where he most likes to be -- in the field with the kids.

Meet our people:

 Jack Machaka (27) is a Social Auxiliary Worker (SAW) at Carryou Ministry. His function is to provide basic help and counselling where it is needed.
 "If for example, a child has suffered abuse I will interview and counsel them and then refer that child to the most appropriate assistance," he says.
 The SAW programme is a government initiative where people receive training and are then placed with organisations working in the field.
 "My parents died when I was eight," says Machaka, "and I was raised by my grandmother. Later I was sent to live with my uncle and matriculated in Meadowlands, Soweto.
 "I was given a bursary to study teaching at the University of Johannesburg but I wanted to give back to the community and I wrestled with whether or not I really wanted to be a teacher.
 "My grandmother advised me to follow my heart and I applied to the Government Social Auxiliary Worker programme and was accepted."
 Machaka was sent to college and spent almost two years completing his training. At the same time, as part of his practical training, he worked for an organisation providing home-based care in Braamfischerville, Soweto.
 "I received only a small stipend that covered my transportation costs," he says, "but I was happy because I was doing what I truly wanted to do."
 In 2009 Jack graduated and in July that year he joined Carryou Ministry.
 Based at the Elandsvlei Drop-in Centre, Machaka works with kids of all ages -- from tiny babies to teenagers. He has a number of Care Givers assigned to him and when they encounter problems in the community, he steps in.
 "We always consult with and involve the parents whenever we encounter problems with kids," says Machaka. "A child may, for example, not be performing at school or missing classes. Sometimes the youngster is from Mozambique or Lesotho, with no documentation and language may be a problem. In such instance I will meet with the parents and the local school principal so we can come up with a plan to help the child.
 "We might also contact the Department of Home Affairs to start the process of getting the paperwork in order," he says. "Then my team and I monitor the child and do spot visits to the home. In effect, together with the parents, we all become responsible for that kid."
 Does he ever regret not becoming a school teacher?
 "Not at all! I believe God sent me to do this work and I am happy and proud I can do something constructive to change and improve lives," he says. "And my Grandmother is very proud of me!"
 Machaka is currently studying Youth Development through the University of South Africa and, when not working or studying, loves to play soccer.
 "I'm a huge (Orlando) Pirates fan and play social football on the weekends," he says.

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