South Africa – “Moulding the next generation!”. Interview with Innocentia Vilakazi

21 August 2019

(ANS – Johannesburg) – Innocentia Vilakazi is a Welding Instructor at “Don Bosco Educational Projects” in Ennerdale. Her job is a male-dominated occupation, but Innocentia has a message for all young South African women who, like her, cultivate a passion: “Always remember your worth”.

What are the joys of being at Don Bosco Educational Projects and working with youth?

Being here at DBEP is such a pleasure for me; I love my working environment. Working with these young people keeps you young! I learn to appreciate these young people because they come from backgrounds that are tough and challenging. I learn to appreciate their talents and skills. I learn so much from people like Mr. Smith for example how to be patient, which I learnt from him. When I go to bed I reflect on the things that happened during the day and I think to myself “what am I gonna do better tomorrow?”. Sometimes I wanna fix situations that these youngsters go through but then you realise you can’t fix every situation, you can listen to what these young people go through. We can only do so much for them.

What, in your view, is the difference between Salesian education and other institutions?

Here at DBEP it is not only career growth, but personal growth also. Here we work on their faith, we work on their personal skills, interpersonal skills. More is invested in developing the person. Just as the career is important, so too the soul, the spirit has to be taken care of. Look at schools today, children don’t even pray at schools anymore!

What challenges do you face as a woman in a so called “man’s world” as a female welding instructor?

As a female welder you are more prone to exploitation. Sometimes companies look at your CV and think “it’s a woman, so she can’t work as fast as a man or she can’t work as hard as a man”. In actual truth, women are far better welders than men because it is a very delicate skill which requires precision. We live in a very superficial time where everyone wants to look pretty, have our nice nails…and then you get girls like me who are welders!

You get youngsters who start this course and say to themselves, “I wanna make burglar bars”, and I think to myself: NO…you must aim higher, design power stations, make boilers, create bigger things. When you have worked on a big project with others you can say: “yeah, I made THAT!” My stamp is on that. And I am proud to say that I was involved in the construction of the 2010 World Cup Stadia. I was even involved in the construction of the famous Medupi Power Station.

What message for youth?

Don’t give up on yourself, and don’t give up on God because He is a very jealous God. He can shake your world to get your attention. You must understand how precious your soul is to God. Fame and fancy things like success that we think is important to us, imagine how precious you are to God.

Message to South African women: Know your worth, think of yourself as the queen that you are!

By Clarence Watts, SDB


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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