So one of my friends, Elungile Mzimba, started an AWESOME project for schools in rural areas last year: it’s aimed inspiring at kids in these schools to dream big.
You’ll be amazed that some kids don’t even dream in these areas because for them getting out of where they are seems so impossible.
So Elu called up a few of her friends last year – told us what her project was about – We called it Masiqaqambe a Xhosa term meaning Let Us Outshine, Let Us Stand Out, Let Us Be Bright. That’s the richness of Xhosa- one word can mean so much!
Anyway Elu’s focus for the project was toward her home province of the Eastern Cape.
The first school the Masiqaqambe (MasQ) project visited was Imingcangathelo High School (IHS).
Upon the return of the MasQ team, those of us that couldn’t make the trip to the school were moved by photographs of some of the learners who wept as Elu and others from the project spoke about how they too had come from where those kids were now. But they had worked hard and they had made it!
While Elu and her team spoke to the matric group – others who had volunteered their time spoke to the teachers and parents about their roles in the learners’ success.
So inspired were they that during the winter holidays IHS arranged for the matrics to be housed at the school for a winter program – teachers taught in that period without being paid a single cent for their time – WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!
Before their visit to IHS Elu had found out from the school what the matrics really needed – she drew up a list, called up her friends – it was amazing how people pulled together to make the list happen.
Some donated money, others stationery and so on.
Two computers were promised to students who would top the class for the finals. Again Elu’s friends (and in some cases family of friends) came together and made the promises made by the MasQ team happen.
So here’s the punch line for the IHS story: In 2011 the matric pass rate at IHS was 48%….
But in 2012… wait for it…. The pass rate for the matric year 2012 was 78%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Talk about a whopping jump!
And all because one woman had a dream to inspire others to dream! And acted on her dream!
The story does not end there.
After hearing the MASSIVE changes that had taken place at IHS – Another school in the Eastern Cape, Mente, asked Elu and her team to come and work the same wonders at their school.
Elu tells me as they drove to the school she and the people with her just felt all energies drained.
This was a place far from roads the average car could go because the roads were virtually non-existent.
When the MasQ team arrived at the school they heard stories that are quite commonplace in many schools like these – kids dropping out of school, poor attendance, rampant teenage pregnancies…
In South Africa the general closing date to apply to universities is September 30. But by the time MasQ visited Mente in September not one of the Mente students had applied to go to university yet!
Punch line for Mente: The previous year, 2011, only 3 matrics had passed! ONLY 3!
Making matters worse there were rumours doing rounds in the community that there were plans to shut Mente down due to dismal performance.
Elu says even after MasQ’s visit to the school there was a damp, sombre, feeling among her team that, despite their efforts, not much would happen for Mente.
How wrong they were!
At the beginning of 2012, 56 matrics had enrolled at Mente for their final year of high school. By September, due to rampant drop out, only 35 students remained.
After MasQ’s visit to Mente the stats are as follows:
– All 35 learners remained in school for the rest of the year and actually took the exams.
– 23 passed!
– of those 23, 3 obtained exemptions
– Of the 12 that failed all but one qualified for supplementary exams
– meaning only 1 student actually failed completely and has to re-do their year in 2013.
All this from a school that had only managed to get 3 learners through the previous year!
The acting Principal at Mente sent Elu a heartfelt thank you! Here’s a piece from that email:
“Elu thank you to you guys… ever since you came the learners’ spirits were boosted. There was a new attitude. So many started requesting testimonials from me for their post-school applications etc and now we see the results!”
I want to honour my friend Elu for her courage to start this amazing, life-changing program.
And I want to honour all her friends who showed up and made things happen both at IHS and Mente.
Every single one of you is testament of what can happen when we have the courage to step out. More than that just the other day I was truly questioning whether we ever really had Ubuntu in Africa or it was something made up…
But for me what is happening in the Eastern Cape because of your selflessness IS Ubuntu.
May we remember where we come from – and that our hearts as Africans should forever be: To never leave a brother or sister behind.
To the MasQ team: here’s to another great year.
I know that already plans are under-way to inspire more young people, educators, parents and entire communities in 2013!
To Elu – strength my dear friend and sister – you have started something truly Great.
May YHWH guide you and make the circle bigger 🙂 as you endeavour to change the hearts and minds of young people in the Eastern Cape – who knows how far your dream will reach!
P.S. My friend has started something truly great. Please support her by sharing this story on as many platforms as you can.
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