Sponsor and Liaisons

Sizakuyenza: Sizakuyenza is a non-profit organization that has worked at their current location in Philippi since 2008. At their office they work to satisfy their organizational missions of sheltering abused women and children, helping community wellness with HIV/Aids testing and counseling, and child protection through an after school program. Sizakuyenza works as a part of an expansive network of community assets, extending from organizations that operate in the same building complex as them, including the Inyanda Youth Network, to organizations that can support Sizakuyenza from afar, such as the Cesvi. The staff members of Sizakuyenza work tirelessly to support members of Philippi and neighboring communities.


Sizakuyenza Organizational Heads: As the overseers of our project, this team of three worked both on the logistics and overarching vision of our project. Although we did not interact with all of them on a daily basis, these three were vital to the final outcome of our project and the longevity of the program as a whole. In addition to their experience coordinating programs, two had previous experience with the IQP process after working with last year’s WPI Safe House team.

Gershwin Kohler: Gershwin was the director of Sizakuyenza while our project took place, and was preparing for his retirement at the end of the year when he would scale back some of his work at Sizakuyenza. Over the course of his career, Gershwin has moved around to many organizations to make improvements and then let someone else step in and bring a new perspective. He sees Sizakuyenza as a vital, but underutilized resource in the community, and he was the one who initially identified the need to map local Community Based Organizations to build a sense of community and help identify gaps in resources that Sizakuyenza may help fill.

Nontembiso Mevana: Nontembiso was the center manager at Sizakuyenza and helped cover larger logistics, such as safety and workspace for the program. With Gershwin stepping down, Nontembiso was beginning to transition into the position of director by the end of our stay. She was a key player in the discussions of how to build the map as well as identify the technology skills our co-researchers wanted to develop.

Vuyiswa Xati: Vuyiswa was our main liaison and the project coordinator of the Women’s Networking Group and the after school programs at Sizakuyenza. She helped identify the desire of the Women’s Networking Group to learn how to use technology for empowerment and helped with daily logistics, such as payments and food. Although she was busy, she sat in on the learning as frequently as possible and we worked with her one-on-one to also build skills that would benefit Sizakuyenza. Vuyiswa is particularly skilled at coming up with activities that helped increase comfort between the students and co-researchers, as well at understanding the needs and wants of the women when the language barrier became a hindrance to communication.