From life skills to eternal life

Lives on the way to being tansformed.
Lives on the way to being tansformed.
Upliftment centre provides new hope for unemployed

They come for life skills; they leave with eternal life.

That is the testimony of  the remarkably high percentage of students who make first time commitments to Jesus while attending a Gauteng-based skills training and development centre which offers them six accredited, market-related skills training programmes – and the Gospel.

The POPUP People Upliftment Programme was started 15 years ago as a shelter for the homeless and 10 years ago it was transformed into a holistic skills training and development centre that addresses students’ mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. 

A non profit organisation connected to the Doxa Deo Church with its main centre in Salvokop, Pretoria and a second centre in Soshanguve, POPUP renders services to people living in Tshwane and surrounding areas, regardless of race, culture or religion. Its main focus is on unemployed people in the 18 to 45 year old age group who do not have any tertiary education. Training in English and maths is a focus area because many of its students have previously struggled in these areas. 

Reaching further
POPUP is able to reach people that the church does not reach. The programme is open to people of all faiths but on the understanding that the courses are Christian-based.Part of the training of all students is a 10-day, compulsory life skills transformational programme. Last year 64% of students made first time commitments to the Lord. Over the last 9 years, that percentage has been 59%. 

“There seems to be a natural progression from talking about life to talking about the spiritual aspect of people’s lives,” says Marlene Freislich, who is very involved with fundraising for the programme. 

Group at POPUP Shoshanguve.

Thanks to funding, of which 65% comes through the corporate sector, and the rest through private individuals and the Government, each learner pays only R160 to register. 

There is no discrimination as to who POPUP will help, and as a result, they have had some people who were in prison come through the programme. There is a huge increase in the self esteem of those who attend and this gives great hope for the future, says Freishlich. 

She says she has great concern about the youth of our country, and that we need a huge turnaround in mindset, value systems and morals. The programme deals with people’s choices, different personality profiles and how they best fit into the work environment, emotional healing and purpose in this world. 

POPUP’s student support includes handing out of meals, clothing, food parcels and medical help. There is also a crèche for the children of students. 

Expansion vision
The model of POPUP has been so effective that the vision is to see 1 000 centres operating across South Africa, each with its own individual expression. 

Some recent student testimonies reflect the impact that the programme makes on people’s lives and attitudes: 

Nthabiseng – POPUP taught me to have patience in everything, because God have his own time and reason for doing something. I will start at the bottom and work my way up to the top, where I want to be. 

Abigail – I had a lot of anger, was very disrespectful and judgmental, hurting others and swearing a lot. I didn’t take anything about God seriously. Now I have changed because I have accepted God in my life. I know how to live and who I should follow. 

Andrew – My life didn’t go the way I planned. Attending POP UP meant that I received a second chance in life. God has blessed me, and I will take responsibility for my life and never give up.

More information about POPUP can be found on their website at

Certificate ceremony at POP UP Salvokop.
Certificate ceremony at POP UP Salvokop.

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