21 August 2012 by Julienne du Toit

The beauty of African Angels

An upliftment project in the Eastern Cape offers disadvantaged women a way of escaping poverty through healing massages, facials and manicures – and getting experience in hospitality and tourism on the side.

Lucille Ferreira (centre) and a group of prospective African Angels. Photo Chris Marais

Can you use beauty and wellness to heal poverty and unemployment? Can you offer disadvantaged women a chance at a career and give them work experience that is a win-win solution all round? Can lodges offer beauty treatments to their clients without the cost of a running a full-time spa?

Angels can be employed at hotels or guest houses, wellness centres, old age homes, as therapists on luxury liners or as au pairs. Or they become beauty entrepreneurs.

Lucille Ferreira, who owns Comfort Zone in the Karoo town of Cradock, was convinced it could be done.

With 2 other local women, Claire Broome and Melina Smit, she started a non-profit organisation, the African Angels Wellness and Education Initiative, to train women in beauty therapy. All the applicants need is a Grade 10, good English, a positive attitude and the will to succeed. This year she took in 6 Level 1 Angels-in-training.

Once they reach Level 3, they are sent ‘into the field’.

Two African Angels, Lucia Ndamane and Mbali Boss, are currently running a ‘Wellness Hut’ at Amakhala Safari Lodge near Grahamstown. Neither had seen wild animals before. When Mbali saw a dassie (hyrax) for the 1st time, she thought it was an earless rabbit. This is a life experience in more ways than one.

Teaching the art of a good hand massage and manicure. Photo Chris Marais

It’s a win-win for all concerned, not least of all for the lodge. For a bargain price, lodge owners get beauty therapists to pamper their clients without necessarily having the expense of running their own wellness centre. Plus they receive black economic empowerment credentials (as do any sponsors of the non-profit organisation). And the therapists help out with housekeeping and front-of-house duties.

The Angels, in turn, experience running their own little operations, as well as dealing with real clients and working in the hospitality business. Once placed at a lodge or hotel, they’re paid a stipend, and successful graduates also share 51% of the net profit after tax from the Wellness Huts in which they work after they pass Level 5.

All kinds of career options open up for them, depending on their level of training (there are 5 levels). Angels can be employed at hotels or guest houses, wellness centres, old age homes, as therapists on luxury liners or as au pairs. Or they become beauty entrepreneurs, running their own mobile wellness tents, offering pamper parties or becoming make-up artists.

Other African Angels have had great success in work experience at Kuzuko Lodge near Somerset East and at the Tuishuise in Cradock.

To find out more, call +27 (0) 48 881 2697.

African Angels learn the art of massage, facials and manicures. Photo Chris Marais

Category: Health & Wellness

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