The School of Hope is a place of learning where we value HOPE FAMILY TRANSFORMATION RESPONSIBILITY AND GIVING. We are education-junkies, sold out to breaking the cycle of crime, poverty and unemployment by giving every person the chance to complete their education. There is nothing more important that we can do for South Africa today!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Three Outstanding Young Men

At our recent Awards Evening, we celebrated the achievement of many students and three young men in particular. These are their stories.

Goldman Gambiza
We met Goldman Gambiza when he was just 14, an economic refugee from Zimbabwe. As a child in the ruthless streets of Cape Town, he became part of the Adonis Musati Project an organisation doing wonderful work with refugees in the city. He was enrolled at School of Hope and soon became part of the family. The tension of being at school when his struggling family expected him to work, was overshadowed by his obvious academic intelligence and love for learning. But the tension remained. In spite of this, Goldman continued to perform well academically and reached Grade 12 easily. Goldman is a sensitive, compassionate young man. He demonstrates the value of HOPE, a joyful expectation for a preferable future. He is determined to complete his tertiary education and we will certainly be there for him throughout that process. Goldman wants to study IT in 2014 and to help him, he was awarded R3000.
Thabo Zaba

Thabo Zaba has passed every academic year out of sheer persistence and enthusiasm, which is the hallmark of his character. Thabo can put a smile on any face and always shows the staff and school the utmost respect by dressing in full school uniform and being that person you hope guests will meet first. Thabo has experienced some tragedy and difficulty during his time at School of Hope but he picked himself up and continued to prioritise his education. In 2012, while in Grade 11, Thabo left his parent’s home to live at Beth U'riel with other young men from our school.  Thabo will make a success of his life simply because he is so lovable and a truly endearing person. To describe his years at School of Hope, Thabo said: I see the revolution in me! Thabo embodies the core value of TRANSFORMATION, having undertaken a remarkable journey from the first day till now. Thabo will study business in 2014 and was also awarded R3000 towards these studies.

Chuma Mdingi with Educator,
Ade Oyewo
Chuma Mdingi arrived from the Eastern Cape and enrolled at School of Hope in Grade 10. Chuma was quiet and barely spoke, battling with the language of instruction and the social tensions in his new environment. In his own words, he had struggled to make friends in the Eastern Cape but at School of Hope he not only made friends but became part of the family. He displays a maturity that is really remarkable. Quiet people can easily be overlooked and seem passive or disinterested, but Chuma’s quiet confidence and exemplary behaviour give him an authority and a strength of leadership that needs few words. He achieved excellent results in 2013 and one word describes his behaviour: consistency. He is the same in every situation, always positive, always respectful, never foolish but he also displays an intelligent sense of humour. Chuma embodies the core value of RESPONSIBILITY having taken responsibility for his learning and his life. He too wants to study IT in 2014. Chuma was declared class Valedictorian and is recipient  of the Denver Andreas Award for excellence. As such, he was awarded R20 000 towards his studies. Well done, Chuma! 

The awards were made possible by three donors: Alessia Brown awarded R2000 on behalf of her late husband Malcolm Jacky Brown, who was a donor from 2006 until his passing in 2012. He cared deeply for the work at the School of Hope.  

Joanne Leddy is  originally from CT, but living in Ireland. She has been putting away 100 Euros every month since the beginning of the year. She is the working mother with three children, one of whom has Down's Syndrome. She sent us the funds with this message: I wanted to help someone, someone hardworking, driven and hungry to follow their dreams. Someone whose life is different because of School of Hope and because of their tenacity to succeed!! Joanne awarded R4000.

The donor of this year’s Denver Andreas Award is Inkomba Energy. Anton Badenhorst, the CEO, is passionate about developing young people. He is father to four boisterous boys and when he does not give us funds, he has been known to be a handy-man, fixing things around the school. He also spoke at our Career Day on being an engineer. He knew Denver Andreas, the first principal of the school, personally and mourned with us his tragic passing in 2004.

Thank you to all of you for your gift that will help these three outstanding young men to continue their journey of life-long learning in 2014!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rite of Passage: Matric Dance 2013

In the Western Cape the Matric Dance is an important rite of passage. Parents of all economic backgrounds, cultures and communities save for months to send their children off to their Matric Dance in style, usually sparing no expense regardless of what the rest of the family will have to go without. It is no wonder, when you consider that less than half of all Grade Ones in South Africa make it to Matric in the twelve years they are given to do so.

It is no different at the School of Hope, where learners have made it to Grade 12 against all odds.  We think the pictures will tell this story best. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The hand that rocks the cradle

Many of the young girls at the School of Hope write their Grade 12 exams with a book in the one hand and a baby in the other.

The reason we advocate for young mothers to complete education at almost any cost, is because we believe that an educated mother is almost certainly going to result in an educated child. Gaylene (2009 Bachelors pass), Bianca (2011 Diploma pass) and Fatimah (2012 Bachelors pass) are all School of Hope alumni who managed to successfully balance academics and motherhood. This year, there are three more mothers bravely facing their up-coming Grade 12 trial exams.

We asked our learners why education is important to them.

Jasmine and Faeeda
Jasmine (19): "My education is important to me because I know that without it I cannot make a success of my life. I grew up in a broken home - my father was on drugs and my mother was sick and depended on me. I also had the responsibility of looking after my brother and sister since I was 15. That's when I realised how important education is. Along the way I made some mistakes. I dropped out of school in Grade 11 and used drugs and alcohol to make me feel better. A friend motivated me to enroll at the School of Hope and soon after, I discovered I was pregnant. Now the most important thing for me is for my child to grow up in a loving home,  finish her education and make something of her life." Jasmine has one daughter, 14 months old.

Thandiswa (21): "Many women end up single mothers and they need to be able to create a better future for their children and themselves.  Today getting an education is easier than in the past so we need to grab the opportunity, we need to have the urge to complete our education. We need to break the chain of poverty in order to succeed. Education gives the opportunity for work and security for our children even when we are no longer there." Thandiswa has two children, a girl,3 years old, and a boy, 8 months old.

Jasmine and Thandiswa are both currently in Grade 12, and both want to study Education.

Shakeelah (18): "Without education it will be more difficult to get work, provide for your family and be independent. Jobs are few but by studying further and  qualifying, you have a better chance at getting work." Shakeelah is in Grade 10 and wants a career in travel and tourism. She has an 8-month old baby boy
Fatimah (with daughter Ayeesha) is
currently studying Humanities at Stellenbosch University
William Ross Wallace said it best when he penned these words:
Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July News

More Than Just Alumni

Wilson Johnson, Human Resource Management student, and
Maninho ‘Mr Shack’ (Music Producer – started his own record label
called Shack Rekordz based in Cape Town).

The School of Hope celebrated its first ever Alumni event this month, welcoming graduates for a night of impassionate reminiscing and great food.  We know that it is important to not only forge relationships in the spirit of family, but continue to grow in fellowship even after our learners have left. The transition into the ‘real world’ can be quite challenging, so it was very encouraging to hear stories about how our past learners are championing. Equally important was that we were able to measure our success as a school. Afterall, giving hope through education is what we do!
There was much anticipation on the day as we found ourselves trying to sort out last minute details. We quickly assembled the troops, and made our way to His People in N1 City to put together a décor that made the wait even more difficult. The atmosphere was rich vintage. Centred on each table was a picture of each of our graduates. The lighting was subtle and perfect for intimate conversations and laughter.

“The people at School of Hope are very friendly”, says Lunga Mdingi (22) who is currently completing his final year in Human Resource Management. “I now have a vision for my life. I’ve learnt that you don’t have to sit around waiting for things to happen. You must work hard to become successful”. Lunga, we are proud of you, and wish you all the best for your future.

The school boasts graduates who are headed to make their mark in a variety of industries. From being a HR manager, owning a restaurant and publishing a cooking book, music producing; and successful entrepreneurship. “I’m currently running a business with my dad.” Together with her father, Mishqa Benjamin (22) who graduated in 2011 now transports school children. Go Mishqa - we need more entrepreneurs!  Of course, these are just a few of the remarkable young men and women who have walked through our doors. We thank you for journeying with us this far, and we celebrate your successes and achievements. There is so much available to you, and we hope to continue this friendship for many years to come. Your lives are forever etched in our hearts.

Sipho Banda, Educator (English)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Meet Destino Nzonzidi, a Man with a Destiny

My first time visiting School of Hope after I arrived in South Africa, I had the privilege of meeting a remarkable young man by the name of Destino Nzonzidi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I was blown away by how he overcame the odds stacked against him.

This is Destino’s Story

My name is Destino Nzonzidi.  I came to South Africa from DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 2008.  I was playing for the national soccer team in Zambia in grade 12.  We lost games in a tournament and couldn’t go home because the fans were waiting to beat us when I arrived.  We feared for our lives.

My aunt told me I needed to go back to school, so I decided to do that instead of pursuing a professional soccer career in South Africa.  I tried looking at alternative schools to finish my education starting at grade twelve and was placed in grade eight because my first language is French and I couldn’t speak English very well.

When I started at grade eight in 2009, I failed.  I tried again in 2010 and failed once again.  Someone suggested I go to English school.  I did that for two months and when I finished, I came to School of Hope in 2011 and they enrolled me in grade eleven!

I am a Christian and have always been one, even in DR Congo.  In addition to the teaching, we have devotions every morning at School of Hope and it helps me know how to deal with the day-to-day problems that come my way and remind me of who I am as a person.

Is there a particular person that went out of their way for you at School of Hope?
One person that greatly influenced me was a School of Hope volunteer from England, Andy Lee, who also spoke French.  He helped me when I had difficulty understanding English and would translate for me.  My marks improved and even though I’d failed grade eight in another school, I was able to pass grade eleven with Andy’s tutelage.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
From here, I am pursuing a degree for three years and after that I am willing to do my master and doctoral in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and at same time continue to run the political program I am running now.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?
I see myself in the senate and as the future president of DR Congo, fighting for equality, peace and love for the whole continent of Africa:
- Equality for all of Africa in economical, politics and social classes, whichever race you are.
- Peace for all of Africa, and to let the whole world know that Africa is the home of war.
- And to love one other as Africans, love our visitors, love our nations.

Additionally, I see myself participating in organisations helping youth, like people have helped me.

What is the one thing that School of Hope did for you that stands out most?
They gave me knowledge.  I lost hope that I would graduate, but School of Hope gave me hope and I started believing in myself.  No matter what I am going through now and however big my goals are, I am able to achieve them.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June News

As part of the curriculum for Life Orientation, the Grade 9 learners learned about environmental stewardship - exploring the benefits of recycling and pollution reduction. They experienced service by cleaning up their local community, and demonstrated the importance of environmental justice (a concept first introduced in South Africa during the early 90s). They showed ownership and responsibility when they were asked to make a difference in their school community.  The reality is that there are communities that receive little to no service in water, housing and waste reduction. Waste management is critical to energy preservation. We believe in preparing our learners (who were very much enthused on the day) to reach a point of confidence when discussing the effects of such issues. Moreover, they should always be geared to action!

Sipho Banda, Educator (English)

Monday, May 20, 2013

May News

Number Crunching : Measuring our Impact

Simone received the highest award for academic excellence at
the College of Cape Town where she studied ECD in 2011-2012
A total of 35 students have graduated from the School of Hope with a Matric Certificate since 2008. Where are they NOW? We know that 46% of them are currently studying and 43% of them are meaningfully employed.

Simone van Der Berg (2008) studied Early Childhood Development management and is currently the Principal at Graceland preschool in Stellenbosch.

Mishqa Benjamin (2009) started her own successful transport business and creche.

Khumbula Mdende (2010) is in his third year of study at Cornerstone Institute in Cape Town. His amazing story of hope is featured here :

Manhino's studio
Manhino Dias (2010) studied at Cape Audio College and is now part owner of Shack Records. He has produced dozens of tracks for up-and-coming artists.

Noxolo Mdingi (2010) obtained a diploma in auxiliary social work and is currently working in the Langa area. She facilitated a successful intervention programme to help young offenders incarcerated at Polsmoor.

Bianca Moyakhe (2011) has been permanently employed at Cape Union Mart since she graduated.

Thandeka Deda arrives at Hugenot College
to begin a new season in her life
Thandeka Deda (2012) is studying social work at Huguenot College in Wellington. She is currently doing her 3-month practical at Thembacare in Athlone.

Fatimah Santon (2012) was awarded a bursary from Stellenbosch University to study Humanities. She recently posted the following on Facebook: ‘Students at SOH, you guys are so lucky. University is tough. A 300 word essay at school is fun compared to the essays we write here. Enjoy it and make the best of it. And appreciate the teachers because they spoon feed you (and i don't think they should). Do the best you can.’

Aza Mahlati (2012) has started his own clothing label Noni Nura (Young and Fresh).

Destino Nzonzidi (2012) is studying Political Science through UNISA and had the following to say about his first assignment: "I just received the result of my first assignment (Understanding the state, Political science) and I got 92%! This reminds me of my high school days, when my assignments were always outstanding."

In 2013 we have 17 learners in  Grade 12,the largest group we have ever attempted to matriculate. According to social worker Daryn Jones, who is responsible for Career Guidance at School of Hope, among them are chartered accountants, lawyers, social workers, mechanical engineers, teachers, journalists, chefs, flight attendants, IT technicians and auditors. We cannot wait to hear about their adventures in the future.

Marvin Mentoor and Aldorechia Adonis are two of three 2012 students who did not pass in 2012. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they went to the Department of Education and asked to be allowed to write supplementary exams. Unbelievably, they were allowed to do so and they rewrote in February this year. This month they received their results and both have now passed Grade 12. Sometimes all we need is a second chance.

The third student who fell short of a pass, is completing a vocational qualification in Hospitality at the Sustainability Institute at Lynedoch, Stellenbosch. We are just as proud of him as we are of our other alumni.

Ultimately this takes us from an 80% pass rate to a 93 % pass rate for 2012, a full 10% above the national pass rate. Now these are numbers worth crunching!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April News

Do you have happy memories of Camp?

As I read Daryn’s report on our school camp, I realized how much has not changed a bit. A good camp still has all the elements you’ll read of below. Read and remember!

‘Just before the school holidays in April, a total of 40 students and staff from School of Hope went on camp. Our location was Bridges of Hope, a tranquil place situated amongst the grapevines of Franschoek. Prior to reaching our destination, we stopped at Strand beach where we were placed into teams according to our school’s core values: Hope, Family, Responsibility, Transformation and Giving.

Once settled, the Survivor themed contest began. Staff and students became fully emerged in group-building activities. The day at the beach caused much stomach-cramping laughter and brought out some healthy competition.

Once at our destination, the team activities continued in the form of war cries, structure-building competitions and other strategic team-building activities. The students were also able to relax by the pool and soak up the beautiful surroundings. The most memorable event was Fear Factor where mopane worms, red chilies and a smoothie of sour milk, egg and Oreos were on the menu. Team members had to encourage one another in order to maintain composure and keep from retching. This, however, was not always achieved!

In the evening we gathered around the camp fire and ate marshmallows while discussing life, love and everything in between. Our time at camp also included prayer and worship, where the students learned new worship songs and many were moved and drew closer to God.

Overall, Team Family won the Survivor competition. Each member was given a new stationery hamper.  The students and staff then packed up and headed back to school, stopping off at Mac Donald’s for an ice cream. Our time at Bridges of Hope was thoroughly enjoyed by all, brought us closer together as a family and made us wish we could stay a few days longer.’

Friday, March 15, 2013

March News

A new face at School of Hope and Thandeka starts the next phase of her journey

Daryn Jones (social worker) has only been working at School of Hope since March 1st, but already she has made herself indispensible. What were we doing without her? She is always on the go, thinking of new ways to add value to the school and to offer the learners a better service. She organised an outstanding Career Week, launching the career development programme with great enthusiasm. Says Daryn of her new role: "This is a very challenging position but i feel inspired and passionate about it. I know I will learn a lot from the learners at the School of Hope."

Thandeka Deda's inspiring story has been the subject of this blog before. This time last year she travelled to Sweden on an exchange programme. Later in 2012, she was named as School of Hope's Valedictorian and received a R20 000 bursary to further studies of her choice. Today she is making her dreams a reality. This month she started tuition at Hugenot College in Worcester, studying Auxillary Social Work.

She joins many others who have gone on to tersiary studies: Lunga Mdingi, is in his final year at Damelin College, studying Business. Khumbula Mdende perseveres at Cornerstone Institute, now in his third year, studying Community Development. Kirsten Cupido is in her second year at Chefs and Hospitality Skills Academy. Fatimah Santon has settled into her studies at Stellenbosch University.

We are equally proud of our working alumni, Nigel Prins working at the Boca West Country Club in Florida, USA, Thoriq Taylor at the Mount Nelson, Dawood Van Der Fort at Pick&Pay, Masakhane Mdende at Aubergines Restaurant, Manhino Dias, co-owner of Shack Records and Meghan Martin at American Swiss.

On Saturday morning I was pleasantly surprised to bump into Bianca Moyakhe who matriculated in 2011. She has been working at Cape Union Mart since mid-2012 and has recently been transferred to the branch in my neighbourhood! I caught her in the act, in front of the camping gear on display at the Bayside Centre!

Watching our learners graduate is a joy in itself, but seeing them make a success of their lives beyond School of Hope is the real reward for the hard working teachers and staff at School of Hope . They make us so proud!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February News

Matric mom, 19, gets an A for perseverance!
This article appeared in two local papers in January 2013, following the announcement of the matric results.
Words by Tanya Petersen.

Fatimah Santon, 19, is proof that even when odds are stacked against you, anything is possible - even passing matric while taking care of your young child.

At 15, Fatimah, from Portland in Mitchell's Plain, fell pregnant during her Grade 10 year at Spine Road High School. At the time she felt it best to leave school.
Feeling despondent and with a baby on the way, Fatimah decided she had to go back to school. However, getting back into a mainstream school while being a mother was a bit tricky, she said. But she plucked up the courage and contacted the School of Hope in Bridgetown, which cares for children who struggle to continue their schooling at mainstream schools due to various circumstances.

In 2010, on January 18th, Fatimah started Grade 10 at the School of Hope. ‘A'ishah, my baby, was only two weeks old when I went back to school,’ she said. However, in spite of having the responsibility of being a mother and having to do well at school, Fatimah stepped up to both challenges. Now, two years later, Fatimah is a matriculant boasting excellent results, including three A's. During the two years that Fatimah attended School of Hope, she has been the top achiever every year. Her results have been so impressive that she managed to secure a full bursary to study a BA in Humanities at Stellenbosch University. A very excited Fatimah told the Athlone News that she had never expected to achieve so much in spite of the odds being against her. She attributes her success to her parents, her daughter and the staff at the School of Hope. ‘The school places special attention on each pupil,’ she said, adding that the ‘special attention’ has a positive impact on all the pupils and it boosts confidence - which makes them feel as if they can achieve anything they set out to achieve. ‘Before I came to the School of Hope I was very insecure. I was also not open with my parents. Here you are someone. The teachers care here and it helps with confidence. At the School of Hope you are not just a number. When you are sad, they ask what is wrong.’

Fatimah's secret to success is balance. ‘When I am at home, I am a mother. I don't bring school work home with me.’ She explained that she tried to complete all her school work at school and when she was able to she would stay after school to study. But the extra classes that the school offered on the weekends also helped her tremendously, she said. But, she added, she would not have been able to achieve everything without the help of her parents. ‘When I needed to be at school, they looked after my daughter.’ Her parents, Jamill and Camilla Santon, both agree that they are very proud of Fatimah. Fatimah says her daughter has been her motivation. In spite of falling pregnant at 15, she had a choice to make a success of her life or not - she chose to make a way to become successful. ‘There is always a way,’ she says. Her advice to people is to never give up. ‘Things that happen in your life can be overpowering, but you shouldn't stay focused on what you did - you need to see that it happened and move past it.’