In 1996 the ANC Women's League - Ext.12, Bellvue,Rooiblok Branch)
established the the Women’s Development Forum whose focus was education. A need was identified to establish a vocational centre at Upington for learners with learning and other disabilities.
The target group was disabled learners who were no more of school going age. It was required to register as a Special School Resource Centre with the Dept. of Education for those disabled learners who were still of school going age. The nearest schools/centres for learners with multiple disabilities are situated in Kimberley which is 400km from Upington.
A survey, conducted at the local schools, revealed that a high percentage of learners with learning disabilities left primary school at the age of 16, 17 or 18 after having spent most of their years in a Remedial Class or those who entered High School at the age of 16, 17 or 18 years simply could not cope and dropped out of school with a Standard 5 report. They did not have any certification, whether scholastic or a skills certificate and therefore could not apply for any work which could make them economically and financially independent.
In September 1999 a lease agreement was signed between the Department of Local Government and Housing and The Women’s Development Forum whereby the property called Webster Grounds could be leased for a period of 5 years for R214 per month by The Women’s Development Forum to establish a community project for people with disabilities, hence Oasis Skills Development Centre was established.
Webster Grounds, 2 845 hectares big, is situated on the banks of the Orange River. It is also situated close to the Central Business District and on the main road. This land has been under utilized for a number of years. In 2004 SEDA (then known as SIYEDA) submitted a Business Plan on behalf of the centre for funding from NDA to start an income generating and job creation project call Floriculture, (the growing of Amaryllis Bulbs). Oasis Centre requested that the approved funding of NDA should be re-directed towards the Hydroponics Project for which Dept. of Agriculture has submitted a funding application which was approved in 2005. This decision was made after the Executive Committee conducted its own investigation and found that the Floriculture Project would be too specialized, labour and cost intensive for the disabled people, as well as a high risk potential, limited markets and takes too long before profits are made.
In August 2000 the Oasis Skills Development Centre started with 16 learners with multiple disabilities and 10 voluntary workers. This number has increased dramatically over the past 5 years. Despite the fact that the centre did not receive any funding for two and a half years, as well as the lack of adequate facilities, we are proud to say that we have achieved many successes since 2000.
Oasis received the Community Builder of the Year Award(2006), //Khara Hais Award (2006) and the Kamoso Award for Best Project 2009/2010.