If you were to ask Anton or Elana how Sozo started they will probably mention Gail’s name. They met Gail in the youth group they were running back in 2010.
Gail was a young mother, living in a one-bedroom house with her Grandmother, her sister, and her daughter, all sleeping in one bed. Her Uncle was sleeping in the living room space. He had been in and out of mental health institutions and was an addict.
To say the least, it was not a safe environment.
Anton and Elana got a group of volunteers together to clean Gail’s s house, get them a new bed, and give it an uplifting makeover. Gail then joined the Sozo Educentre after-school programme. Even once Gail left the Educentre, she remained in contact with Anton and Elana.
It was vulnerable young people like Gail who drove Anton and Elana to establish the Sozo Youth Café in 2016. This new venture was a skills development programme targeting young people who dropped out of the formal schooling system and faced circumstances that they could not escape. Knowing that Sozo was a safe space, Gail reached out to Sozo once more in 2017. In her initial interview, Gail expressed her passion for hairdressing.
She turned out to be a phenomenal student in the Sozo Hairdressing Skills School.
Sozo arranged for Gail to do job shadowing at a local hair salon. The salon owner was so taken by Gail’s skills combined with her gentle, caring demeanour that she offered Gail an opportunity to work at the salon as an intern.
In 2018, Embrace Hair and Beauty Salon offered Gail full-time employment, where she is still employed.
Gail dreams of one day opening her own salon.
In the meantime, Gail has returned to Sozo as a facilitator in our Hairdressing Salon. She is known in Vrygrond for her expertise in braiding. She is teaching the next generation how to do local ethnic hairstyles at Sozo.
“If I hadn’t been at Sozo I wouldn’t have got this job”