27 October 2016, a night that will live on in the hearts and minds of at least 88 very special people – the RLabsU graduating class of 2016.

After many months of sacrifice and effort, the big night had finally arrived and the air as well as social media was abuzz with excitement. The house was packed with family, friends and supporters of the graduates, all in attendance to acknowledge their efforts and celebrate their achievements.

Before the handing over of certificates could take place, it was only right that we hear from some of the graduates, just what this course meant to them and how it impacted their lives. One of the first speakers was Jubeida Behardien, a lawyer from Atlantis, who emphasised the importance of education and seizing opportunities such as those presented by RLabsU, to upskill and empower oneself. Even though she is an educated woman with a law degree, she recognized that even she didn’t know it all and was professional and teachable enough, to allow someone else to educate and empower her in the area of leadership. Below is an excerpt of her speech:

“Education is the key. Atlantis is offering free education. Technology is important and crucial for success. Leadership requires confidence, professionalism and the ability to speak authoritatively. The value and importance of the Skills Development Act cannot and should not be overlooked. A true leader has followers; after-all you can’t lead yourself. To the graduates, congratulations on your achievements, keep on with what you’re doing. To the investors and social development partners, keep on investing, we will make you proud! Let’s put the negative things aside and focus on the positive things. We can eradicate poverty and crime.”

The next speaker was another resident from Atlantis, Delene Hesselman, who briefly shared the impact RLabsU has had on her life. “I attended the Introduction to Computers course and then received an invitation from Michael Humbles; to attend the evangelistic campaign which took place in September. There I committed my life to Christ. The upskilling and empowerment I achieved through RLabsU, resulted in me being offered 2 job opportunities and I was able to do SAP training for free in which I scored 100%.”

Following her, was a gentleman, Jacques September, who travelled all the way to Atlantis from Kraaifontein, every week – if that is not a sign of commitment, I don’t know what is: “I just want to encourage you all with this scripture, Proverbs 3v5-6. Thank you to RLabsU for the opportunity and also to Michael, for the way he presented the class which has now enabled me to be proficient in the Microsoft package.”

The last speaker of the evening was the Chief Community Advisor for RLabsU Atlantis, Dr. Michael Adams, who additionally was also a graduate of the Introduction to Computers course. See an extract of his speech below:

Dr. Michael Adams – Chief Community Advisor: “We need people here in Atlantis with vision and drive. I am very impressed with Jacques’ commitment and Jubeida, you’ve inspired me once again. I must give credit to RLabs in Bridgetown and specifically Mr. Roger Petersen who introduced the RLabs concept to my family and I about 5 years ago. Everything starts with a vision, but it needs to be activated within you. Everyone doesn’t have skills. They may have qualifications but lack the necessary skills. There seems such a sense of hopelessness in our community, due to the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse as well as the rampant gangsterism, but I am determined to fight a different kind of war, by engaging the drug lords and gangsters over a cup of coffee and by persuading them to change their lifestyles and approach. We need people like Bernard (a former gang member) to grow and mature in this community, to show that it is possible for GOD to change someone’s life. RLabsU is going to become a full-time movement in Atlantis, just as it is in Bridgetown. Atlantis is strategically located, and I will continue to believe and pursue the belief that, GOD is going to raise up successful entrepreneurs, political leaders, multimillionaires from within in our community. I must also give acknowledgement to Michael and Liesle Humbles along with their team, for their efforts, input and sacrifices. It’s in Atlantis that people and families are being restored. I too am a graduate tonight, because I need to be on the cutting edge side of things and therefore I have to be teachable. Congratulations to the class of 2016!”

With the speeches done, the formalities were concluded by the handing over of the certificates and a group photo, before everyone proceeded to the foyer for refreshments. As the saying goes in Beacon Hill…Oh what a night!!

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