We learn about, The Mamelodi Initiative, a non-profit organization geared at improving the lives of those living in Mamelodi by providing needed resources to equip the community. We also explore their ‘Winter Jam’ program which is currently underway. 

The Mamelodi Initiative really helps with improving the education of young people in Mamelodi. You have spoken about how some students will come into the program as teenagers and they’re barely able to write, read and do basic mathematics. I know that the program improves these much needed skills but how do you create an environment whereby young teenagers are not embarrassed to admit that they don’t know how to do these things? And, how do you give them their confidence back?

We try to keep our classes quite small, we have a total of 10-15 students in a class and each class has two volunteer teachers who cater to each students needs. The small classes really allow the students to let their guards down, and create a safe place for them to open up about what they might be struggling with in their academics. We also really encourage our volunteer teachers to be sensitive when the students open up to what they might be struggling with. Each students gets one-on-one personal attention with the volunteer teachers, something they don’t receive at their schools. As the volunteer teachers walk with the students, and as they progress with the tasks that they are given, they begin to gain their confidence back. What has also helped is the relationship that grows between the volunteer teachers and the students.

What have been some of your personal highlights while you’ve been involved in the program?

Wow, this is a tough one because there just so many! I’ve been involved with the Mamelodi Initiative for about 4 years so the memories are enough to create a full feature film. But I’ll touch on two. The first highlight is seeing students come for the first time in grade 8 and just see them grow. One such student is Godwin, he joined the program in grade 8 and is now studying at the University of Pretoria, he is the first one in his family to do so. He’s a leader at his Residence and embodies what we are trying to achieve with this organization. He’s become actively involved in The Mamelodi Initiative as a volunteer as well, he has become such a role model to his peers.

Another highlight for me has to be the incredible friends that I’ve been able to make through this initiative. Every year a group of students from Universities such as Harvard, MIT, Babson and Wesely come down to be part of the volunteer team. It’s really great to be able to rub shoulders with  a diverse group of young people who are passionate about making a difference.

Do you think that the program can be scaled? Would it be possible to see it in many areas in South Africa? 

Our aim, goal and dream is to get this initiative all over South Africa and ultimately all over Africa. With the loads of hard work and passionate people driving it, we’ve already started the same program in the west side of Mamelodi. So we’re making steady progress. Education is such a pressing issue in this country and on this continent. With the rise of the #FeesMustFall movement it’s clear to see that the young people of this nation understand the power that education has. Nelson Mandela once said that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. We believe that to be true, we also believe that this social movement, The Mamelodi Initiative, is a vehicle that can be used to mobilize young people who are passionate about actively contributing to making a difference in this country and broader to the African continent.

How would you like us, as young people, to assist with the Mamelodi Initiative? 

We’re always looking to have new volunteers at our Winter and Summer Jam’s . The Mamelodi Initiative Winter Jam #DiscoverYourSelf (MIWJ) is a three-week tutoring programme for high school students in Mamelodi. Academic tutoring and recreational workshops are presented to equip learners to succeed in school and life. Ultimately, we want to provide a safe space for the youth to learn, grow, dream and achieve!

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Students in the Computer Literacy Classes

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Godwin, the student spoken about in question three

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Volunteers with students

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Two volunteers smiling together

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Mische at assembly inspiring the students

This year’s Winter Jam (#DiscoverYourSelf) is already underway and unfortunately it is too late to join in on the activities. However, if you would like to contribute financially either now or in future, drop Seth an email at seth.mulli@mamelodi.org. He will get back to you with more details of how you can contribute financially to help grow this initiative.

For more information, check out The Mamelodi Initiative website: http://mamelodi.org/