Cape Town teen gets a huge boost from 'angel donor' to earn his wings

2019-02-21 16:04
Xolisa Shenxani dreams about being a pilot. (BackaBuddy)

Xolisa Shenxani dreams about being a pilot. (BackaBuddy)

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A young man's dream of becoming a pilot is one step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to a generous donation.

Xolisa Shenxani has dreamt about being a pilot since he was very young. He was inspired to train as a pilot after meeting representatives from the South African Air Force during the Langebaanweg Air Show.

READ: How 18-year-old Xolisa is chasing his pilot dreams

However, his dreams were temporarily dashed after his mother's death when he was just seven years old, and he struggled to feel like he belonged anywhere.

"In those challenges, I learned lots of lessons. It made me the person I am today. I told myself that I wasn’t going to give up, even though I was going through all the challenges that I was going through. My mother told me I must do my best in everything I do and that life isn't going to be easy," said Shenxani.

Major boost

His mentor, Philip Bellstedt, created a BackaBuddy campaign for him to achieve his dream of being a pilot.

"My family and I have fully invested in Xolisa's future. My parents are always there to offer a hug, a sandwich, a lift or a word of encouragement. We all have high hopes for Xolisa's matric year, based on the progress he has made and his ability to embrace every opportunity that comes his way," Bellstedt said.

The BackaBuddy campaign received a major boost on Wednesday. One person donated a whopping R100 000 toward Shenxani's dream of getting his wings.

For him, the donation means that the funding target of R187 800 - which will cover transport, food, textbooks and clothes - is now within reach.

Shenxani's thoughts turn to being a young boy who dared to dream.

"I used to look up into the air and see helicopters fly over my house, but I didn't know what they were. I thought, 'I would love to fly that thing,' but I wasn't sure if people could fly in it.

"I remember, in Grade 1 or 2, a helicopter landed on the soccer field in Sir Lowry's Pass and I got to see inside of it. That's when I knew that I wanted to become a pilot!"

Academic criteria

He has worked hard to ensure he meets academic criteria to qualify for pilot training.

"I never dreamed that I would be attending private school. It was hard being in my old school. In my maths class, we had over 60 students. Even though I tried to concentrate, I couldn't concentrate because there'd be some distractions - kids that didn't want to be at school would make noise - but the teacher wouldn't explain again; it was your problem; you had to figure it out yourself," he said.

"It's much better in my new school. If you'd don't understand, they make sure you understand. The teachers go out of their way for you if you work hard - they'd do everything in their power to make sure that you succeed."

The minimum requirements for training as a pilot or navigator with the South African Air Force are: Grade 12; between the ages of 18 and 22; medical fitness; and no criminal record.

"Candidates will undergo a selection process and this entails psychometric evaluation, medical examination and a Formal Selection Board. An offer of employment will be extended to the most successful candidates," the organisation says on its website.

Xolisa Shenxani dreams about being a pilot.

                                   Xolisa Shenxani (right) dreams about being a pilot. (BackaBuddy)

"I believe that investing time and money in the future of a promising, hardworking child like Xolisa is a good investment. Xolisa's success will not only be to his benefit, but also to the benefit of his descendants and to those in the community who look up to him. My dream for Xolisa is that he reaches his potential and lives a happy, fulfilled life," said Bellstedt.

BackaBuddy aims to create a charity model where people can make direct donations and the organisation manages funds to ensure that the beneficiaries receive the money to meet their needs.

In 2018, over R35m was raised on BackaBuddy and more than 1 800 new crowdfunding campaigns were launched.

The platform has raised R89.2m in total.

"Funds raised are managed directly by BackaBuddy NPC and are paid directly to False Bay High School for Xolisa's education. Donors will also receive regular updates on Xolisa's progress should they wish to show their support," said Zane Groenewald, BackaBuddy Public Relations Officer.

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