In September 2009, SEED started a skills development programme covering various trades and public services, enabled by a grant from St. John's SAFE. SEED had previously facilitated evening classes for formal schooling, and now turned attention to practical skills development, for which demand is huge. This is because benefits of learning can be experienced almost instantly, it is suitable for people who are more practical than academic, and it is possible to make progress in a few hours a week, whilst still holding down a job.

20-30 gardeners from Greendale and surrounding Harare suburbs attend each week. So far introductory topics covered have included carpentry, banking, health, basket weaving, electrics, welding, labour relations, bicycle servicing, fire service and shoe repairing. We bring in experienced practitioners to lead sessions. After tasters in various skills, students will be given the option to further develop skills in a chosen topic in the new year.

Key messages from public services so far have included "Know your rights, and your employers' too", "Keep yourself in good health - prevention is better than cure", "We put out the fire for you, but don't start it!" (fire brigade). The medical session also answered questions people had about swine flu, circumcision, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. The carpentry session involved a practical of mending furniture. A former gardener, who is now an electrician, returned to pass on his skills.

The gardeners' knowledge and skills base is growing each week. This not only benefits themselves and their families, but other peers to whom they pass on what they have learned.

SEED Projects Manager Robert Kazunga says; "I would like to thank you very much for this skills development programme, on behalf of the gardeners. I strongly believe it is going to instigate some of the guys to achieve great things in their lives. This programme is giving hope to some people who had become hopeless. Now we are beginning to see the fruits."

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