The Story of Xolisile

By Rejoice Baloyi

“My name is Rejoice “City Year” Baloyi, the daughter of Putting Idealism to Work. I am 21 years old with a positive attitude and I am full of determination. I demonstrate Spirit, Discipline, Purpose and Pride.” This is how I prefer to introduce myself while I am serving at City Year. I committed this year to service because I believe that I am a change-maker.

I have a story about a young, humble and respectful girl called Xolisile, who is a learner at Lawley Primary School, where I am currently serving. Xolisile’s class has one of the lowest pass rates in mathematics and English, so at the beginning of the year, I made it my mission and goal to help them improve as much as possible. I noticed from the beginning that Xolisile had loads of potential, but needed a little bit of help. After attending the City Year Children’s club (After-school Programme), learners including Xolisile showed a significant improvement in their marks, with over 70% of them passing the tests that were prepared for them by their teachers.

One particular day I was excited, and looking forward to seeing the learners. I rushed to class, did some icebreakers and then began with the lesson that I had prepared. While I was busy interacting with the kids, I realized that Xolisile wasn’t in class. I asked her peers where she was, and they informed me that she was in hospital. Hearing that was a huge shock. I spoke to Xolisile’s class teacher, who told me that Xolisile was having heart problems. The first thing that crossed my mind after the teacher briefed me on Xolisile’s condition was whether she was going to make it. It felt like I was having a bad dream and that at any moment someone was going to wake me up.

A week passed and I learned that the operation to repair Xolisile’s heart went well. I was so relieved to hear that! Three weeks after the operation, she was back in class and I was extremely excited to see her. Seeing her smile again was overwhelming. Unfortunately now she was struggling a lot more than she was before she had the operation. Her concentration level was very poor, and I noticed that she wanted to give up, but I couldn’t let that happen! I paid extra attention to her, and constantly motivated her, simply because I sincerely believe that she has unlimited potential within herself.

Hard working Xolisile is now on par with her peers in mathematics and English, and I am happy to say that I have made a difference, not only to her, but also to most of the learners in my class. Thanks to City Year for giving me the chance to spread my wings. I am now one of the young change-makers in South Africa and the world!