My name is Nkosinathi Ndlovu. I am 21 years old, from Jabulani, Soweto, and I serve at Winnie Ngwekazi Primary School in Pimville, Soweto.
My service journey began in 2011 when I was still in college studying Business Administration. I was the Student Representative Council president and would assist management with campus projects. When I was not on campus over weekends, I would just sit around the house and do nothing constructive.
A friend of mine, whose name was Phumlani Mkhize, was a City Year Service Leader. He was an idealist who always encouraged me to help and give back to our community, but I was very cynical and uninterested at first. Eventually he convinced me to spend a day serving with him at Siyavuma Primary School, which is near to where we live. As we entered the school gates the security welcomed Phumlani, and the first thing I noticed was the laughter and joy on the kid’s faces when they saw him. I watched him facilitate and play games with the children, and I joined in on the action.
On our way home Phumlani started telling me about City Year and some of the
things he did during his year of service. I was so interested and intrigued by the whole concept, especially after what I had just experienced at the school, that I decided to apply to become a Service Leader. Once I had submitted my application, I was called in for an interview and shortly thereafter was accepted into the programme.
My first day in the community of Pimville was nerve wracking. We had no idea what to expect as a team, but the staff at Winnie Ngwekazi were very welcoming and soon enough we managed to adapt to the different dynamics and conditions of the school and community.
I started working with grade 5 learners in our City Year Children’s Club (CYCC), which is an after-school programme where we assist kids with their homework, reading and math’s. I absolutely loved working with the kids and I formed a special bond with a young boy named Menzi Ngubane. He was very brilliant and energetic, but lacked self esteem and rarely participated in any of the activities we had planned. Each and every day I would spend 10 to 15 minutes of our programme encouraging Menzi, but his behaviour remained the same, and I started to feel that there was no hope of changing his outlook. I continued motivating him every day, even though I felt discouraged, and then gradually I noticed his condition becoming better and better. Suddenly it struck me that he had been listening to me all along! Now Menzi is actively engaged in all the CYCC activities and his self-esteem has visibly improved.
Recently I gave my kids an assignment to write about who they want to be when they grow up. On the day of submission I looked at Menzi’s assignment and he had drawn a picture of a City Year Service Leader with the title: “My role model Nkosinathi Ndlovu”.
I’d give 10 more years to serving my city, just to be a hero to someone 10 more times.