These testimonies were written to their mentors in South Africa from three of the young women whose education is sponsored by the trust. Let’s share with you some of their remarks that we hope will inspire more of us to reach out and help these kids attain their potential.
Winnie Begala is seventeen and has the ambition to become a chartered accountant. She has received sponsorship for some years before the trust was established; she has already achieved college entrance.
Winnie wrote to Alison her mentor in beautifully neat, well-punctuated handwriting how sponsorship allowed her to attend a school that her parents couldn’t afford.
Attending a better school has increased her ambitions. “I first want to finish College then I can maybe do some internship in London. … After I get a good job that’s when I will think of having my own family.”
Winnie faces obstacles both in college and at home. In college she is struggling with her understanding of Maths. She finds as do other classmates that the teacher isn’t good at explaining. At home they are overcrowded with eleven people living in a two-bedroom house.
Winnie’s parents have difficulties with providing enough food. “We sometimes run out of food. My parents try so hard to make sure that we don’t sleep on an empty stomach…… I thank God every day for that.”
Winnie writes to someone who is considering sponsoring a child. “If you sponsor a student, you are actually making a huge difference into that student’s future. You are helping that student to be able to help their families’ financial problems … Being sponsored is one of the reasons why I am where I am right now. I am glad that there are people who are willing to invest into my future. I’m glad to know that people believe in me. So sponsoring a student …that is best thing a person could do for that student.”
Another girl, Okuhule Beyaphi, now 16, has been sponsored for over year. She also commented on the benefits of receiving sponsorship. Students’ self esteem appears to be enhanced when they receive help from abroad. All the students come from disadvantaged families; some orphans. Some in child-headed families.
Okuhele writes: “My sponsorship has motivated me to work harder and to use each and every opportunity that comes my way … It has given me the courage ands strength to take on challenges and to always work to the best of my ability.”
A strong desire to benefit others pervades the students’ remarks. Okuhele again: “The future that I dream of is seeing myself succeed in life and help other people. I would also like to do voluntary work to make a difference to other people’s lives. There are already people that are doing their best to make a difference and I would like to join those people to help reach that goal.”
Okuhule has a wise head on her shoulders and is well aware of the social problems that beset her. “Most young people have the potential and are hungry for success but are struggling financially to make their dreams a reality. Helping them is giving them some direction and the courage to pursue their studies….. And that is a great blessing.”
Through the polite response to the mentors’ questions, you can sense gratitude, ambition and purpose. Siyasanga Malima is also 16 and finishing secondary school. She is finding Maths hard. “I am going to make sure that I study hard, take extra lessons and practise my maths every day. …. at home I am having to share a one room shack with four other people and when it is winter and it is the heavy rains, the roof leaks but then I know that if I work hard in my studies, I can change the situation that I am facing at home.”
Siyasanga Malima is not short of high ideals. “Pride, honour, discipline and love are the most important attributes to us. Pride in our books and being honourable, discipline the code we love by and above all, love yourself. The money that you invest in us is not only helping us but is also helping the country because this money helps us to get good education so that we can be more knowledgeable and successful people in life because we are the leaders of the next generation.”
Please read the letter from Yolanda (news post Yolanda, dated 28 August), a 13 year old from Cape Town. She was answering the following 4 questions: 1. In what ways has your sponsorship opened doors for you, or enabled you to create new opportunities for yourself?; 2. What are the greatest obstacles that you currently face, and how are you working to get around these? 3. What future do you dream of? 4. If someone was thinking of sponsoring a student, what words of encouragement would you offer them?
Dot Schwarz on behalf of the Zoe Sarojini Education Trust.