Four rural youth are paying it forward to ensure that the children who come after them have a chance at an education.
The four from various villages within the Thulamela local municipality in Vhembe, Limpopo have formed a non-profit organisation known as Rotangana Foundation. Their aim is to make sure other village children don’t drop out of school due to family poverty.
Established in October 2020, as the country dealt with the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the four began to see a real need in their community.
Getting children back to school
“Our communities are located in a poverty stricken region of Limpopo province, with many parents who cannot afford to buy school uniforms for their children,” said the foundation’s chairperson Ntsieni Sirwali. “We have witnessed many learners going to school with torn uniforms and most of the times without school shoes, being forced to walk bare footed to the school,”.
As a university graduate, Sirwali said that realising that their fellow brothers and sisters face a gloomy future made him want to do something for their community. With children dropping out because they did not have essential, the Rotangana Foundation started a back-to-school project. They collect school uniforms, shoes, stationery for children in need.
“We have a high number of school dropouts in our communities, because their parents couldn’t afford to buy them school uniforms and shoes hence we have embarked on this back to school drive, with the hope of collecting as many school uniforms and shoes as possible and donate to all those who are in need,” said Sirwali.
Preparing for life after school
The foundation also helps learners who have completed their matric with career guidance. They help matriculants fill in application forms for admissions to universities and colleges, and help them apply for funding.
“The organisation exist to ensure that we motivate and encourage the importance of education by offering academic support to our communities,” said Sirwali.
For older students, the foundation also collects sanitary towels and toiletries, and helps collect food parcels for families. Their donations come other community members and local businesses. In this way, they rally communities today, to help build the future of that very community through supporting children and teenagers, explained Sirwali.
“Our communities are in deep rural villages which are rooted in poverty, there is high teenage pregnancy, use of alcohol and drugs from our youth. And a high rate of school dropouts and a high rate of gender-based violence,” said Sirwali. “And the Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation worse.”—Health-e News