Watch the news, read the papers… there is a lot of information we get about the youth that is unnerving, be it because of hideous crimes committed or lack of employment. How many times have we observed members of the older generation shaking their heads in disappointment while sadly saying “children nowadays”? I’ve seen it more times than I care to share. With such a bad stigma attached to that phrase, “children nowadays” are not all that bad. This is clearly seen when we choose to look in the right direction. And now I redirect your gaze to the Tim Tebeila Foundation.
Founded by its namesake, the Tim Tebeila Foundation is a youth-based organization that seeks to educate, train and, simply put, give children and the youth a chance at attaining their dreams and being self-sufficient adults who care and give to those in need. “Mr Tebeila had it rough growing up,” shares Buhle Dlamini, CEO of the Tim Tebeila Foundation. “Being raised by a very poor family in a rural area and travelling barefoot to a school 15km away was Tim Tebeila’s reality, and still is for a large number of children in South Africa. Such an upbringing usually either makes or breaks a person and in this case, it has made Mr Tebeila play his role in preventing such situations from occurring in the first place.”
With his success, Mr Tebeila saw an opportunity to bring communities closer and encourage society “to inculcate a culture of giving and sharing.” In its mere four years of existence, the Tim Tebeila Foundation has been involved in numerous projects: replacing a shack of a church in Sekhukhune village into a new, respectable R7 million place of worship, providing primary school kids with tracksuits together with Kaya FM, assisting unemployed graduates by providing training with the Wits Business School, and many more.
When Usher came down to SA a couple of months ago, it was not just to perform at his concert. Usher’s New Look Foundation is one that focuses on creating, supporting and training young leaders. It should have come as no surprise for Usher’s New Look Foundation to partner up with the Tim Tebeila Foundation, the two possessing quite a number of parallels. As the CEO of the Tim Tebeila Foundations pointed out, the most obvious of these common pillars is the educating of youth and encouraging service in one’s community. The Powered by Service project was therefore handed over to the Tim Tebeila Foundation and Buhle excitedly announced that although the project was in its pilot stage, things are looking very good and the project will be branching off to include a lot more schools, not just those in urban areas but those in far off rural areas as well. Buhle went on to express how proud they are of the learners involved in the Powered by Service project. From thousands of submissions from learners across the world, five learners from South Africa were handpicked to attend Usher’s New Look Foundation 2012 World Leadership Conference.
At this conference 250 youth leaders, of which our five learners are a part of, will be conducting training and workshops for over 1 250 middle school students and they will also have the opportunity of meeting notable adult leaders. The most fascinating thing about this conference is that it really does empower the youth; the conference is not run by adults but by the youth. For the five South African learners jetting off to Atlanta, Georgia (where the conference will take place from 19 to 23 June), this trip is sure to be a memorable one.
One of the students who won the trip to the leadership conference, Thato Ntai, attends one of Kagiso Trust’s BNSDP schools in Qwaqwa in the rural Free State, a Kagiso Trust programme aimed at turning around disadvantaged schools by improving school governance and management. “We are very proud of Ntai’s achievement. Participating in Usher’s New Look Foundation 2012 Leadership Conference will expose her to new opportunities and principles of leadership,” says Nontando Mthethwa, Corporate Affairs Manager of Kagiso Trust. “We hope that she will come back inspired to use her new found skills and talents to move forward as a successful youth leader and build her community further.”
“Some of the kids attending the conference have never been on a plane before,” says Buhle before he goes on to explain how the children are now thinking outside the box, are having their world broadened and some are even talking about applying to study at Harvard. And so much awaits these young ones abroad, “We will be having a private dinner with Usher… meet up with Ludacris and attend an NBA game.”
I am delighted that it won’t be all work and no play for the learners and can only imagine the wealth of knowledge and experience they will bring back home. “We will keep you posted on a daily basis via the website, Facebook and Twitter,” he assures me. As we conclude our interview, I note how excited Buhle has been throughout the time we spoke, this was a different excitement. It was not one fed by flying across the Atlantic Ocean and seeing Usher, “My relationship with Usher is not one where he is a celebrity” or the super awesome time they will have in The States. No, this was a genuine expression of excitement at doing good for other people and seeing the youth hyped and eager train others to join them in being “children nowadays” who are powered by service.
By Amandla Kwinana
This September, Kagiso Trust will be celebrating 25 years of making a real difference in South Africa. Learn about their inspirational Bold Step campaign, which is aimed at encouraging the nation to pledge to help educate more disadvantaged youth: www.boldstep.co.za.