Patheka Tunzi is from Butterworth, a quaint town in the Eastern Cape, and moved to Cape Town 11 years ago. She has been working as a housekeeper, with the mechanics team at the Jenman Vehicle and Coach Builders‘ workshop next to our Jenman head office, for three years. As part of our Grow Africa initiative, Patheka or “Patty” as she is affectionately called by the workshop guys, is learning to use the computer. Having only completed Grade 11, she has never used a computer before and is keen to learn because “when my supervisor Kyle is not here I can jump in”.
Patheka is in charge of cleaning and preparing all equipment, which includes things like mattresses, tents, sleeping bags, gas stoves, cutlery and crockery, and vehicles used on our safaris. “The cars are always full of dust when they come back”, she says sighing. “But I get to use the pressure hose and I clean the cars – even underneath”.
Mark who runs the stockroom, whose top-to-bottom shelves are stacked with safari goodies from washers to cooler boxes, is teaching Patheka to use the computer. Grow Africa aims to educate its staff and Patheka aims to be promoted to storekeeper assistant to help with stocktaking, invoices, placing orders, and for her own personal development. It’s still a little tough.
“When I push the mouse I want it to go this way, but it goes that way”, Patheka says laughing. She started to learn in November last year, and hopes to be computer literate by the end of this year.
The noisy workshop is filled with Landcruisers and safari trucks in various stages of construction that are specifically manufactured for our safaris. All vehicles used on the tours come back to the workshop to be cleaned, unpacked and serviced. This is not the normal environment for a mother to work in. But Patty enjoys the gritty, grimy atmosphere.
“When you work with men, there’s no stress, no bad moods. They are nice people and I have learnt so much from them. Sometimes Noah [the mechanic] teaches me about cars. And I can now put up the big safari tents”.
It’s a multicultural 8-person team that works together in the workshop. Ocean speaks Shona. Brendan is English. Fatty [mechanic’s nickname] is Afrikaans. “Fatty, I’m going to teach you Xhosa,” she says, “But then he says ‘Ah Patty, I’m going to teach you Afrikaans’”.
When asked what her biggest dreams are, Patheka mentions two.
“I would love to go on a safari tour to learn more about the country. Like, what is important in that country? What do the people look like? What do they eat?” She talks passionately about her wish to travel. “It’s my wish, just once… maybe when it’s not too busy here”.
Her second dream is even bigger.
“I want to start my own business. That’s why I need to learn to use a computer. Maybe I’ll open a restaurant. I won’t call it Fishaways [seafood take-away restaurant]. I’ll call it Patty-ways”, Patheka says smiling brightly. “You see, dreams can come true”.