Kliptown hero up for big CNN prize

2012-10-06 14:58

Kliptown Youth Programme executive director Thulani Madondo would like all South Africans to vote for him in this year’s CNN Hero of the Year Awards.

“Imagine if every South African votes, everybody. That’s 49 million votes every day,” Madondo said in an interview at the youth programme’s headquarters in Kliptown, Soweto.

It’s been two weeks since Madondo was told that he was a finalist in CNN’s annual television special, which honours individuals making extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid.

“We celebrated until our voices became hoarse,” said Madondo, who is the Kliptown Youth Programme’s third director.

He insisted that the nomination was not his, but belonged to the organisation.

“If I wasn’t leading the Kliptown Youth Programme, I wouldn’t have been nominated.”

Madondo is up against nine other finalists from the US, Nepal, Colombia and Haiti.

He is the first South African to be nominated as one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes since its inception in 2007.

As a finalist, Madondo will receive a $50 000 (R439 740) grant for his work at the Kliptown Youth Programme.

If he is voted this year’s winner, to be announced on December 2 in Los Angeles, he will get an additional $250 000.

“It’s inspiring to be leading an organisation from ikasi I grew up in. The truth is, no one enjoys staying in these conditions.”

The Kliptown Youth Programme employs six teachers for its high school programme and has volunteers assisting 400 children from across Kliptown.

It offers computer classes and access to its modest library to the rest of the community.

Aspirant pilot Sibusiso Ngobeni (9), a Grade 3 pupil at Wisani Primary School in Pimville, Soweto, said he spent most of his spare time at the programme.

“I love Maths,” said Sibusiso, adding that he attended extra English and Life Skills classes.

Madondo said the nomination, and the possibility of the big prize, would help the Kliptown Youth Programme strengthen its programmes and empower its team of workers and volunteers to continue helping the community.

The Dean of New York’s Fordham University Business School, Dr David Gautschi, nominated Madondo.

The Kliptown Youth Programme has a long-standing relationship with Fordham, which sends a group of students to Soweto every two years as volunteers.

“He was inspired by our work. That’s why he nominated me,” Madondo said.

»To vote, visit: heroes.cnn.com

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