Visionaries spread their wings

2016-11-10 06:00
 Social activists Siviwe Mbinda and Wandisile Nqeketho

Social activists Siviwe Mbinda and Wandisile Nqeketho

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Two Cape Town residents and social entrepreneurs, Siviwe Mbinda and Wandisile Nqeketho, were recently selected by an energy beverage company to attend the annual 2016 Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria. It was a six day event.

Mbinda is the founder of Happy Feet, a youth project based in Langa, whose sole purpose is to provide a safe after-school environment for the children in the area, while Nqeketho is the co-founder of the 18 Gangster Museum, in Khayelitsha.

The 18 Gangster Museum is a mobile museum that raises awareness about gangsterism in Khayelitsha.

In Salzburg, the two had the chance to network with change-makers from all over the world.

The aim of the seminar was to connect social visionaries while covering various topics including sustainability and African justice issues.

Mbinda said: “Wandisile and I are truly humbled that we were selected to represent South Africa and our respective towns in Salzburg.

Through this wonderful opportunity, we were able to present our projects to a group of change-makers from around the world which has improved my confidence in terms of telling my story” said Siviwe

“I had also been struggling to dream big but now my plans for my project have grown.”

The impact of the seminar, according to the two, made a lasting impression on every participant.

“Words like global and international no longer intimidate me because our global networks have expanded and we got to interact with other innovators, which has given us new ideas to create more solutions for our communities and the world,” said Mbinda.

Mbinda is a former fruit and vegetable vendor and a taxi driver for pre-school children.

He started Happy Feet single-handedly in 2007 with a donation of gumboots from construction workers.

Today Happy Feet has expanded to become an after school dance and music programme that offers the youth of Langa an alternative to hopelessness, crime and substance abuse.

The project also has a feeding scheme providing healthy meals to the youngsters twice a week– an arrangement he hopes will become an everyday occurrence.

Apart from his other endeavours, Mbinda is trained as a tourism operator and uses these connections to provide scholarships to the Happy Feet youth.

Wandisile Nqeketho and his two partners created the 18 Gangster Museum two years ago to raise awareness about gangsterism so that people can clearly understand this societal ill.

Their aim is to educate people about the negative consequences of joining a gang. They make use of images, documentaries and other forms of art to take their point home.

Since the inception of both projects, these community heroes have achieved many milestones. Over 150 children and young adults attend Happy Feet classes in a small garage in Langa and over 25 reformed gangsters make use of the services offered by 18 Gangster Museum.

Nqeketho said: “(The)Salzburg Global Seminar was just was enriching and informative. There were so many inspirational young people from different backgrounds who all had so much passion and knowledge to contribute.”

This experience was part of the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy, an 18 month development program which gives talented grassroots social entrepreneurs the platform to take their project to the next level.

“It’s not every day that one finds people who are truly genuine about helping them,” Nqeketho concluded.

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