Going Above and Beyond

By Titus Macuacua & Victor Maseko, 2012 Service Leaders

A particular young boy in our after school programme at Lawley Primary, loves City Year and always tells his mother, who works at the school, about the activities he does with us. One day his mother, Mrs. Kgosana, came up to us at lunch and said, “Just know that we as parents and the community are really grateful for what City Year is doing for our children. My son who is in grade 6 cannot close his mouth about how good and helpful you are to him.”  She then kindly asked why City Year is not in high schools and we replied, laughing, that the answer to that question was above our pay grade. Mrs. Kgosana started telling us about Nomathemba, her 16 year old daughter in grade 10, who was failing maths. She asked us, “How can you help me to help my child out of this misery?” We said that we would think about it and talk it through with our Site Leader Alexi, to see if there was anything we could do to assist.

The next day as we were about to wrap up, we heard a knock at the door and saw Mrs. Kgosana standing there with her daughter at her side. She said, “I am leaving her with City Year. See what you can do.” We were shocked and confused.  We had not said yes, or even had the chance to speak to Alexi! But, we decided on the spot that we were going to help this girl, even if it meant staying behind every day after our work with City Year was complete. We decided to initiate our own programme, which would run immediately after the City Year Children’s Club, between 4:30pm and 6pm. Without wasting any time we started tutoring the young girl the same day that her mother brought her to us.

First we motivated her, and made sure that she started off with a positive mindset. Then we started with the basics. As time went by we watched her progress. She came to us for help with her own sums that she was working on at home, and also the ones that she got at school. Nomathemba stayed motivated and slowly started to love maths. We continued working with her for about 5 weeks, until she could no longer attend because her school had started their own after-school programme. When she left, we asked each other whether we had made any difference in her life.

Shortly after we stopped working with Noma, while helping in the schools kitchen, Mrs. Kgosana told us about how disappointed she was that her daughter could no longer attend our classes.  But she smiled at us and said “For the first time bafana bami bengiqala ukubona uSbongile ezimisele ngomsebenzi wakhe wesikole kakhulu ngezibhalo” which means “For the first time in my life, I have seen my daughter practicing maths and taking her school work seriously”. We smiled and both said, “WE HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE.” We managed to change Noma’s attitude towards learning, as well as her negative mindset towards maths, and we have given her mother new hope that her daughter will make it.


I Gave A Year And Was Rewarded With Hugs

By Faith Marira

I am proud to say that I spent a year serving at Tshebedisanong Primary School, in Central Western Jabavu. I joined City Year South Africa to give back to my community, because I am passionate about community development and helping children.

For most people Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s are ordinary days, but for me those are the days I spend serving at Tshebedisanong. City Year taught us at the beginning of the year that we can make a difference, even if it is only to one person. In our case making a difference meant helping children with their homework, smiling at them, playing with them and being role models.

A young girl in my grade 6 class never misses the City Year Children’s Club, because she says she loves having fun with the Service Leaders, as well as reading. Ever since she joined the City Year after-school programme she is at the top of her class, and dreams to be a social worker when she finishes school. “City Year is the best” she says. “I love my facilitators, sister Faith, brother Earl and brother Sandile. They always help us with our school work”

Sibongile brings joy into my heart. Every time she sees me before class begins, she runs up to me and HUGS me. Month after month has passed and every time I see her, she runs up to me and gives me the biggest hug she can. I’m touched by her love. All I’m doing is helping these kids with their school work, and Sibongile has given me something I never expected, a warm and genuine greeting every time she sees me.

I learned this year, that it is the little things that change our lives. City Year South Africa taught me about the ripple effect, and Sibongile showed me the ripple effect – the true spirit of Ubuntu. I’m grateful to City Year for giving me the opportunity to have met the children from Tshebedisanong. Children like Sibongile. I gave a year and I got a million hugs. Something that I never thought could happen to me.