Hard work pays off

2018-05-31 12:37
Ward 78 councillor Eddie Andrews, Marion and Nikita Arendse, Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre director Ashely Potts, Khanyisa, Faith and Vincent Nxazonke and Community Chest CEO Lorenzo Davids. Photo: Samantha Lee

Ward 78 councillor Eddie Andrews, Marion and Nikita Arendse, Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre director Ashely Potts, Khanyisa, Faith and Vincent Nxazonke and Community Chest CEO Lorenzo Davids. Photo: Samantha Lee

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Tears of happiness and disbelief were infectious with not a dry eye in the room. This as two young women from a local youth empowerment programme were each surprised with a bursary of more than R30 000.

Nikita Arendse and Khanyisa Nxazonke, both peer leaders in the Decisions Affects Destinies (DAD) youth ambassadors programme, were the first recipients of a new programme established by the Community Chest called the Siyakubona Project.

“We are going around to communities in the Western Cape and making these spontaneous awards that no one knows are coming, as a way of generating light,” says Joan Daries, Community Chest head of projects.

Ward 78 councillor, Eddie Andrews, founder of the DAD programme assisted in the selection of the learners when they were approached by the organisation.

Lorenzo Davids, Community Chest CEO, says the learners are deserving winners as they represent the “light and hope in the community that is passed from generation to generation”.

“The awards recognise that you are no longer invisible. We see you and people have seen you and heard you,” says Davids.

Andrews says he was always impressed by Arendse who says she joined the programme because she refused to conform to the norms. Similarly, Nxazonke started recently but has boldness and confidence that inspires others.

Arendse, a first year student at UWC and Nxazonke, a Grade 12 learner at Rhodes High School, were both awarded a R35 000 bursary.

“This award goes toward your first year fees, travelling, accommodation and everything else associated with you becoming the person that you want to be. You guys are well deserving and a sterling example of what you can be when you do not conform to society,” said Andrews to the girls when the award was revealed.

Suzan, Nikita’s family member says the award was so needed and thanked the Community Chest for the bursary.

Her mother, Marion says: “Nikita works really hard. As I was telling Faith, we applied all over and everything came back negatively and she told me we should just keep praying.”

Faith, Khanyisa’s mother, says they too had been applying.

“Last week, I was speaking to Marion and she was getting irritated because we were applying and applying and she says ‘we are praying and applying and nothing is happening’. I said to her that sometimes God will be silent, meanwhile, he is saving the best for us.”

This was before either of them received the call to attend the event held at the subcouncil offices in Lentegeur on Thursday.

The girls were only informed that they needed to be there at 16:00 with their parents. And up to the last moment, they had no idea what was coming their way.

A small group of DAD ambassadors, friends and officials were invited to witness the ceremony.

After composing themselves the girls delivered their heartfelt thanks for the “blessing”.

Nikita says: “I want to thank everyone who was a part of this. In my heart I believed I was going to be funded. My mom would worry but I always told her everything would work out. Then today to hear ‘we see you’, it feels like when God opens the clouds and says ‘I see you’, that is how it feels today.”

Otherwise the bubbliest of the group, Khanyisa was momentarily at a loss for words. “I had already lost all hope that I would study next year, I thought God gave up on me. I just can’t believe this, I have no words. Things haven’t been easy and I am just thankful to God. I really can’t believe it. I told myself I would keep working hard this year and see what next year would bring. Now this, wow,” she says.

Andrews says from his side, the selection of the students was unanimous.

“I am overwhelmed by the two of them. You have this view of people and you would not think these are the real-life issues in terms of funding of studies,” he says.

He further thanked the Community Chest for the work they are doing in uplifting the community.

Davids assured the girls that this was not their last interaction.

“We are not just doing this and walking away. We are going to be there every step of the way,” he told the girls.

This would be in the form of a mentor who will check in with them on their progress and offering support where they need it.

Nikita is a first yer B.Ed student majoring in Maths and Science and Khanyisa hopes to study Pharmacy next year.

“Both of their stories [helped us decide on them as the recipients]. Nikita doubted she could finish this year because of fees. She was reaching a point of desperation where she did not want to go back in the second term and we saw we could fix that for her. Khanyisa is a matriculant filled with potential, a good public speaker and an articulate young woman. She owes some money on her school fees and we wanted to solve that and make sure there was still some left over to help with her registration for her degree next year. These are young women who will contribute to society and someone needed to see that. It was not something magical that made us look at them. We are responding to their potential. Every child has potential,” says Davids.

Ashley Potts, director of the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre says the learners have been working hard to achieve this.

“These are hard working learners. They have been and still are. They have been working in Grade 8 and 9 already and now in first year university and matric, they are reaping the benefits of that hard work. You cannot expect to get to matric and then expect to just fly through that next phase. You must put in the work now and study to reap the fruits later,” says Potts.

Potts has a long standing relationship with the DAD programme and the Community Chest and the partnerships were instrumental in creating the opportunity for the learners.

“The organisation was looking for students who were part of a sustainable youth mentorship programme and that is why we forwarded [nominations for] Nikita and Khanyisa because they are really exceptional young women,” says Andrews. “This just goes to show what can happen when youth don’t conform to society. Really just go out and be the exception to the norm.”

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