Masandise Study Aid is what its name says:
“Let us help grow” + “Study AID.”
Brilliant students can easily get bursaries. Well-off students have parents to pay for their studies. Good students can get study loans, or, now, in 2018, they can possibly study for nothing.
But what about those young people who are less talented? Those with no parents? Those who have failed Matric? Those with an illiterate mother somewhere in the Eastern Cape, who loves them very much, but can’t really give them guidance? What about the many who are themselves almost children still, who have to support younger siblings? Don’t they deserve help?
That is where Masandise Study Aid comes in. It is different from ordinary “bursary funds.” Helping young people to grow is our aim, and giving study aid is our method. This can often mean helping the less talented and those with many problems. Mentoring involves helping them to grow up to take responsibility for themselves and guiding them in solving their own problems. It doesn’t mean taking over their lives, or spoon-feeding them.
The Ngansane family of three siblings came to our notice through the local headmaster of Kayamandi High. (The names used here are all pseudonyms). The eldest brother, Sid was then in Matric. He wasn’t very interested in our career guidance: he was headed for UCT and a Commerce degree, had applied for a Metropolitan Life bursary. But then he failed Matric! For two years his mentor heard nothing, but then he sent an SMS: on his own he had applied for and got into Northlink College, studying for an N6 Certificate (matric equivalent) in Safety and Society (a “pre-policing” qualification) with a full police bursary. At first we merely paid for his lunches, until we discovered his ailing mother had left for the Eastern Cape, leaving his younger brother and sister in Sid’s care. He was supporting them all on something like R200 a month. In the end Masandise took over, supporting Sid (who was now on the College soccer team and also on its Students’ Representative Council) and his school-going brother and sister. They had no-one else.
The little family had many problems: first, their mother died; just after they had returned from the Eastern Cape from the funeral (fares sponsored by Masandise), there was an electric short circuit and the fire burned most of their furniture. Stellenbosch Mother Church could help replace some of the things, but for months they had to make do with no electricity until their housing was rewired. When Sid achieved his diploma, he was rejected by the Police Services, along with his whole class. He found a job teaching security measures to recruits at a small security firm. Meanwhile his young brother Yagodi had fallen into bad company and had left school, but Sid hauled him back; in vain, for Yagodi soon gave up again. Sid sent him away to relatives in the Eastern Cape, but he merely managed to incur debt there.
Next, while walking near the police station in Kayamandi, Sid was shot by someone emerging from a shebeen. He spent over a month in hospital. Msandise could help support the sister at school. By now they had a nice fridge, bought by Sid, and other furniture. He went back to work and all was well. But then his employers went bankrupt and stopped paying him, and he was out of work. Masandise helped him improve his security qualifications and made sure he was correctly registered at the central security registry. For months he in vain sought other employment, even travelling to Johannesburg in search of a better job, but the only result was a mugging that robbed him of his ID and bank savings card (he had put away a tidy little sum by then). Back at Stellenbosch he at last found a security job and even paid for his own studies toward a firearms qualification.
Meanwhile (in 2015) his sister Happiness passed Matric well, but there was some confusion and her university application was never processed. Next she fell pregnant and had a little girl in October 2016. Within a week after the birth, she had found herself a training position with the Department of Agriculture, completing the stipended course by September 2017, while bringing up the little one with the help of its proud uncle. During this past week she has at last registered for a Business Diploma with the College of Cape Town. And at last Yagodi has turned his life around, gave up drinking and drugs and, with his brother paying half and Masandise the other half, completed a basic security course. Now he’s looking for a job. And Sid? He keeps applying to the Police Services. One day his determination will win though!
The role of the Masandise mentor in all this was moral support, advice, occasional help with shopping and providing a fall-back for a much beleaguered young man. Of course the funding we could provide was also important: without it, they would have been destitute. But Masandise has helped all three grow by means of the study aid and support we could provide.