The uNowanga programme helps unemployed disadvantaged South African youth to become nurses in Germany within four years. The youth learn German at the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg while working in the German old age home in one year before they start their three year nursing apprenticeship (“duale Ausbildung”) in Germany.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
- Nelson Mandela (former President of South Africa and former Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John South Africa)


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
- Desmond Tutu (former Archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa and the former Prior of The Order of St John South Africa)

The unemployment rate amongst the youth in South Africa is a deepening crisis and in a time of crisis innovative and sustainable solutions need to be found and implemented. Thus in 2017, the uNowanga team started to work on a solution and a programme was launched, in partnership with The Order of St John South Africa, on 1 April 2019- The uNowanga Programme.

The uNowanga programme is preparing youth from South Africa to pursue a paid apprenticeship as recognized nurses in Germany.

The research done by the uNowanga team in 2017 showed that there are 200 000 unoccupied learnerships in Germany. One of the areas with the most significant shortage is care giving. By the year 2030, Germany will have vacancies for an estimated 300 000 care givers, 200 000 of which will be in elderly care specifically. And in this a solution was found for those young South Africans who are passionate about patient care and the caring for the vulnerable in society.

What does uNowanga mean?

It is in this migration between South Africa and Germany that the name “uNowanga” was adopted. The word “uNowanga” is found in two indigenous South African languages: isiZulu and isiXhosa. Its literal meaning is “white stork”, but its deeper meaning comes across with the knowledge that the South African white stork migrates between South Africa and Europe. It is for its deeper meaning that we chose uNowanga as the name of this project, as the uNowanga participants will be migrating between South Africa and Germany to broaden their horizons, skills and emerge with an accredited nursing degree.


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
- Nelson Mandela (former President of South Africa and former Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John South Africa)

Prospective employees need to apply and successfully complete a screening and interview process. (The requirements are detailed under Apply Here). If they are successful, they become a part of a rigorous 4-year programme that starts in South Africa. The first year in South Africa focuses on preparing the employees for their potential German apprenticeship. In this year they will need to complete a German course at the Goethe-Institut to a B2 level (Business German), as they will be studying and living in German institutions. Additionally, the employees will need to do care work at The German Senior Residence and at Park Care Homes in order to improve their geriatric nursing skills. They do receive a stipend for their work from the sponsors of the uNowanga Programme and are fully fledged employees of The Order of St John.

Once they have successfully completed the language course, the participants will start their training in Germany. They will join a 3-year programme that is equally divided between on-the-job training and classroom training. In Germany this training is called “Ausbildung” which translates to “apprenticeship”. The apprenticeship in Germany will be paid for by the institution that they are accepted at. After the successful completion of the “Ausbildung”, the participants will have the opportunity to return home to South Africa or remain in Germany.

The programme has a yearly intake and will scale overtime. Currently it is run out of Johannesburg, but Cape Town and Durban are in consideration for the next intake.


"It always seems impossible until it’s done."
- Nelson Mandela (former President of South Africa and former Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John South Africa)

The benefits are multifaceted, it creates a sustainable opportunity to those who are willing to complete the course with dedication and hard work. This directly address the unemployment crisis in South Africa. The programme also addresses the care giver shortage in Germany, while upskilling youth who have a passion for caring for the vulnerable.


In order to apply for our programme, it is advisable to have completed NQF 2 to 4 of the South African Community Health Worker training at a SAQA and HWSETA accredited institution or have a proven track record in healthcare or caretaking.

For German visa purposes and employment in South Africa, you will be expected to supply the following once accepted onto the programme: Police Clearance Certificate, Valid Passport, Original copies of all certificates of education including matric certificates.

Click this link to complete the application form. Please note that we will inform you whether or not you have been successful to go to the next round. The selection process is rigorous and time consuming.

Are you interested in participating in our programme? Please fill in the form here.


“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
- African Proverb

Projects of this magnitude and cause cannot be successfully implemented without partners who make it happen on a financial, logistical, and practical level. Our partners in varying degrees of involvement are:

The Order of St John South Africa:

St John assists with sourcing funding, administrative and management support, training and development support, Human Resource management support, and other ad hoc requirements to ensure the success of the programme and its participants.

YES4YOUTH initiative:

YES Initiative assists by potentially linking St John with sponsors for the employees so that they are paid a monthly stipend for the preparation year. The sponsors benefit from the sponsorship by receiving additional BBBEE points which assists them in future business ventures. Additionally, each participant receives a mobile phone that has work-readiness modules pre-loaded and a CV builder. These modules need to be completed so that the participants can keep the phones.

German Senior Residence:

The German Senior Residence (GSR) assists with placements within the wards and Performance Management of the participants who work in the wards. GSR also assists with a training venue and other ad hoc support to ensure the success of the programme.

Park Care Homes:

Park Care Homes assists with placements within the wards, Performance Management of the participants and ad hoc medical training by the Head of Nursing. There is rotation between GSR and Park Care Homes so that the students have exposure to a variety of working environments.

Goethe-Institut Johannesburg:

Goethe Institut is paid to teach the uNowanga participants to complete their B2 German (Business German). They are teaching the students how to study and how to speak German. Only the participants who pass B2 will be eligible for consideration for placement in Germany.


“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”
- Maya Angelou (African American activist and poet)

There are many avenues within the project that anyone can get involved on a volunteer basis. If you wish to get involved as a volunteer, donor or any other useful manner, please contact us at or visit or Facebook page and send a message.

Are you interested in becoming a partner? Please do not hesitate contacting us under

Contact us

Are you interested in our project uNowanga or even want to become a partner? We would love to hear from you!

19 Woolston Road
Westcliff, Johannesburg
South Africa