My Year of Service

By Kamogelo Masoko

While a lot of people have been living an ordinary life, as ordinary citizens, I have been living an extraordinary life. I have been blessed with the honour and privilege of serving my people, communities, and my world as a whole. In February 2013 my journey as a City Year Service Leader began, and after my training was completed, my teammates and myself were assigned to Somelulwazi Primary School, in Freedom Park, Soweto.

Since joining City Year, my life has changed tremendously. I walk to and from Somelulwazi Primary every day, rain or shine, as taxis, cars, buses, bicycles and motorbikes furiously pass me with amazement and amusement. My teammate Zanele joins me on these walks, and both of us get a chance to demonstrate the City Year founding story of Moccasins, which is adapted from a Cherokee prayer, and goes as follows: “Oh great spirit, grant that I may never criticize my brother or sister until I have walked the trail of life in their moccasins.” Zanele and I put ourselves in our fellow South African’s shoes as they go about their daily commutes, walking and traveling through hardships and happiness.

My role at Somelulwazi Primary, is to facilitate English lessons with grade 7 learners during our after-school programme, which we call the City Year Children’s Club. I also spend time with the learners during the school day to provide them with one-on-one support. The kids that I work with are an inspiring reason for me to serve in Freedom Park. I love the three days a week that I get to serve my community and country, and spend quality time with children of Somelulwazi. As well as tutoring and mentoring the kids, I also help with preparing and serving food for their lunch. My team also spends time working at Freedom Day Care, which takes care of smaller kids. We wash dishes, help with cleaning and prepare and serve them food.

The City Year team serving at Somelulwazi Primary provides hundreds of children with a reason to smile, and gives them an extra incentive to come to school every day. Even though primary school kids are sometimes challenging to work with, I can always see potential in them. They face vast difficulties, and the way that I see it, I can play a part in helping them overcome those difficulties so that they can be successful and happy. After all, it is what we do, not what we say, that ties our humanity to one another. Freedom Park may be my first assignment as a change-maker, but it will most definitely not be my last.

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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.

Making a Difference at Winnie Ngwekazi Primary School

By Wayne Tsotetsi

The first day that we spent in our school, got me feeling both anxious and excited. I couldn’t wait to see Winnie Ngwekazi and its learners for the first time!
The principal made it very clear from the start that we had to give her good results when working with her learners and the school. This meant that we had to perform at our level best.
Our recruitment of learners for the City Year Children’s Club went well, and even though we didn’t get quite as many learners as we had hoped for (because of other after-school programmes running concurrently to ours), that didn’t keep us from working as hard as we had promised. Our team arrived early every day and assisted in the many tasks that had to be done at the school. We helped with look and feel and we ushered, swept and cleaned chairs when the school hosted parents meetings. We also helped with the feeding scheme, relieving some of the stress from teachers since they already had so much to do with so little time. The attitude of the principal and teachers quickly changed towards us. They began to communicate more with us and acknowledged how passionate, and creative we were when helping at the school. This also motivated us into doing more for the school. Today the teachers offer to help us instead of us helping them. Before the school embarks on any project they consult us, so that they can hear our views concerning what they what they want to achieve.
The effort that we put into the school helped build our relationships with the staff and today we work together to achieve one goal.