Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
18 Feb 2017
6:11 am

Young Tshwane firefighter’s future burning bright

Citizen Reporter

Ntebo Kwenaite is one the first female crew leaders to be produced by the Working on Fire programme in Gauteng.

A young life has been saved by fire.

This according to 26-year-old Ntebo Kwenaite of Hammanskraal who is a firefighter in the Working on Fire (WOF) programme in Roodeplaat, east of Pretoria.

She is one the first female crew leaders to be produced by the WOF programme in Gauteng.

The WOF programme is one of the Expanded Public Works programmes funded by the Department of Environment Affairs to implement integrated fire management and skills to young men and women who want to be firefighters.

There are 17 WOF teams with 419 firefighters in Gauteng.

Speaking about her journey in the WOF programme, Kwenaite said the stipend she earns in the programme helps her put food on the table every day.

Kwenaite entered the job market immediately after matriculating.

“Nobody at home was working at the time. Like any other young person, I aspired to have a better life and a better education,” she said.

She was saddened by the fact that her counterparts who matriculated all went on to study at various tertiary institutions. Job opportunities were few and far between. Then Kwenaite learnt about the WOF programme.

“I was under pressure to provide food for my family. I needed to feed and clothe them,” said Kwenaite, who had to carry this burden at the tender age of 19.

She was recruited to the WOF programme at the Ditholo base in Dinokeng game reserve in 2011 as a firefighter. Excelling in the programme, she moved through the ranks and became a type 1 crew leader in 2012.

As time went by, Kwenaite developed a passion for the job.

One of her most memorable moments on the job was leading a 24-member crew in combatting a runaway fire in Modimolle in 2015.

Although leading the team was a scary prospect, she quickly doused her fears and set about doing the best job she could.

‘”It was scary going to that fire. Aside from making sure the job gets done, I had the added responsibility of making sure my crew members came back safe,” she recalled.

As a result of the programme and Kwenaite’s commitment, she soon became the sole breadwinner in her home. She upskilled herself by obtaining her driver’s licence and registering for a course in business management at a private college.

“It was the precious stipend that kept the fires burning at home. I don’t know what would have happened to my family had I not joined this programme,” she said.

“I am optimistic about what the future holds,” said Kwenaite. “The waves of economic hardships are subsiding thanks to the programme.”

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