From the streets to ‘agent for change’

2015-09-17 06:00

Langa Mbatha (right) with Clinton George from YMCA before he left to represent South Africa in the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam. 

PHOTO: supplied

Langa Mbatha (right) with Clinton George from YMCA before he left to represent South Africa in the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam. PHOTO: supplied

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LANGALETHU Mbatha (24) has turned his life around - from living on Pietermaritzburg streets to becoming a role model and “agent for change” at the YMCA.

Mbatha is currently representing South Africa in the 13th Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam.

The Homeless World Cup, an annual soccer tournament, supports local and national football programmes in 74 nations worldwide, 365 days a year, with 100 000 players taking part each year, and which advocates the end of homelessness through the sport. The football tournament comprises teams of homeless people from many countries, and one of the criteria is that each player must have been homeless at some stage.

Mbatha was part of the YMCA Y-Justice programme. He lived on the city streets for two years and visited the Y twice a week for a shower, change of clothing, a meal and relationship-building with the Y-Justice volunteer team.

“Langa was different to others in so many ways. He consistently displayed gentlemanly mannerisms and strong leadership capabilities accompanied with a deep and sincere humility,” said Clinton George, YMCA CEO.

George said after seeing these qualities in Mbatha, the YMCA decided to provide him with accommodation and a monthly stipend to help meet his basic needs.

“In exchange he is required to maintain his positive spirit and serve as an agent of influence to other youth who may be crying out for a role model and big brother figure in their lives.

“It’s been 11 months now and Langa is still a shining star. It is such a blessing to have someone like Langa in my life and can you believe it, he calls me “dad” and I am only 12 years older than him. He is such a role model in so many ways, even to me,” said George.

In January Mbatha was given the opportunity to go back to school, made possible through the establishment of the Umngani Scholarship Fund. He is currently completing his matric at Nomaswazi High School. The scholarship fund was a formed by two American interns at YMCA who were inspired by Mbatha’s story. To date almost R10 000 has been raised.

For more information about YMCA­, contact its offices at 033 342 2469

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