There was no time to run around town blogging today, as I was busy doing real work for most of the day, interviewing an inspiring 24-year-old student who is making a great difference in the lives of children in public schools in the area. Nangamso Koza (or Soso, as most people know her) is originally from the Eastern Cape, but was drawn to Bloemfontein to study, a decision she doesn’t regret for a minute.
Having attended what she terms a ‘bantu’ school all her life, she’s filled with empathy for the kids who are not being afforded the opportunities to which they have a right, and hopes to enrich them with a greater consciousness of what they are entitled to receive during their school years, while opening dialogue with them to see what it is that they desire in order to make their educational journey easier and more enjoyable. She launched (at the age of 23!) her own NGO called Inqubela Foundation, which is set to change the lives of learners in Mangaung. Fifty-two learners have already attended a leadership camp with her team, where they were taught that if they want changes for their school, they have to do it themselves. She also has a library project going, where grade eight learners are in the process of creating their own school libraries (as she doesn’t believe in spoon feeding and handouts, and says that if the learners have ownership of their library – from organising book drives to finding shelving sponsors, they will make more use of it and take more pride in it). There’s also the literacy and numeracy project developed by her colleague Sibusiso Tshabalala, where high school learners that have been part of Inqubela’s programme will be mentoring primary school learners and helping them with maths, reading and writing. Soso and Sibusiso have been invited to Argentina to the South American Business Forum for students in August – the only two South Africans to crack the nod!
Soso never thought she’d be working with children, but here she is, juggling various projects in between studying communication sciences and journalism, while living every day with the kind of zest that is evident in her gorgeous smile. I went with her to Moemedi High School in Botshabelo today, where she met with four grade eight learners to see what changes they would like to see at their school (they want people to stop writing on their classroom walls, they want sports fields, and they want computers – all things that people like me took for granted throughout our school career). Soso will continue working with these kids to see how they can reach these goals together, getting their entire grade on board to instigate and follow through with the changes themselves.
This is just one of the many passionate people living in Bloemfontein that I have the privilege of passing by on a daily basis. Feel free to leave comments with your own stories about passionate people you know of in this city.