People's Voices

Sunshine comes after rain for Phindie!

Travelled through the bends and turns of life and tossed to hell and back, Phindile Mnganga’s tale is one which many young South Africans can relate to. Her mom sadly passed away in 2003, and she never met her dad. Her grandparents raised her on their pension money, and despite these difficult circumstances, Phindie matriculated from Luthuli High School in 2005.

Finding it hard to make ends meet yet keeping the flame of hope glowing, Phindie wanted so much more out of life for herself and her young son. To drive the wolf from her family's door, she took on jobs as a cashier and packer.

A regular churchgoer, Phindie sat in a church in Umthwalume, Kwa-Zulu Natal one day, when it was announced that Kwanda, an initiative aimed at making ‘communities look, feel and work better’ was recruiting young people for a learning camp. Her destiny was about to take a turn for the better: Phindie was selected to attend!

A few weeks later, Phindie was sitting on a bus headed for the Kwanda camp in Rustenburg. The butterflies elbowed their way in to stomach as her mind reeled with the possibilities of a better future. It was at this camp that Phindie and others learnt how to mobilise and organise resources for the benefit of their communities.

As is the style of success to follow another success, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) awarded Kwanda a one-year bursary for which Phindie qualified, and she enrolled for a BA in Public Management and Governance. ''This career was inspired by slow service delivery in my community. Bad infrastructure and the lack of recreational and cultural centres pushed me to want to find ways of implementing positive change where I live'', she shares.

As the UJ bursary only covered tuition, Seriti Institute chipped in, paying for Phindie’s living expenses, books and travel. Another bursary covered the following years’ tuition, with Seriti once again rising to the occasion with additional financial assistance. However, it is Phindie's enthusiasm, dedication and hard work that must be celebrated. “Phindie is very responsible and diligent; almost frugal in her ways, I came to respect her immensely. She really applied herself and fully deserves to graduate in March 2014. We are extremely proud to have played a small part in one young woman’s sure success'', says Gavin Andersson of Seriti.

Unable to contain her excitement, '' I feel like I was born under the luckiest of stars, I cannot believe that I am graduating this year. Wow, thanks to Seriti Institute and sis Lillian of Soul City who took the time to accompany me to the university on my first day. I can't wait to enter the world of work'', says Phindie.

Seriti has no regrets believing in, and supporting Phindie.

Leratong Senior management, CEO Mr Dube, Assistant Director Administration- Ms Mampondo , CWP coordinator Ms Granny Ramokoka.

CWP participants maintain a food garden situated in the hospital’s yard where vegetables such as spinach, onions, beetroot and carrots are planted. Environmental consciousness goes a long way in Leratong hospital through participants recycling paper and boxes for collection by Mondi Paper. The hospital management appreciates the work done by CWP and have said that 'if patients are happy, the community is also happy'.

Erasmus Tree Planting

"Re a leboga Seriti. Thank you for CWP: driven by that which inspires us!"

Erasmus community is rich in history, and enriched because it still holds dear the values of days gone by, when communities united for the common good. Sit with us for a few minutes while we tell you our story.

Many, many moons ago, in 1930 to be exact, 244 friends and relatives decided to work towards a common goal: to buy land they could call their own. They contributed money towards a communal ‘kitty’, The money was raised through agricultural activities, with women being the main contributors.

Jacobus Willem Erasmus was the previous owner of this land that we bought, thanks to hard work and a united community. Our enthusiasm was tested many times, but we kept on keeping on. Look into our old, wise eyes, and you’ll see a speck of sadness. We try to hide it but we cannot, for when our minds drift back to the way things used to be, we are saddened by the way they have changed.

In the ‘old’ days, communities across South Africa used to work together and do everything in their power to keep that ‘wolf’ away from every household’s door. We worked for the greater good to ensure that no one went to bed hungry. How tragic that most communities across our country are not like this anymore.

The people of Erasmus dance to an ancient drum. Here, the traditional way of governance is in place. We are a community with traditional values where young people respect their elders’ wisdom. We do not know what protests are in Erasmus. Our value system is passed on from generation to generation.

Here, the CWP is led by community elders. We’ve spearheaded certain projects, such as beading, recycling, knitting chair bags that are sold to schools, and first aid education. Our oldest team leader is Mme Mogoshi. At the age of 87, she heads the recycling team.

So why have we told this story? Well, we would like to thank CWP for asking our opinion as the elders of our community, for consulting us and including us, along with the disabled in Erasmus.

We have continued to work together, thanks to CWP, just like we did in the old days. Every single household has a garden. Agricultural activities have been revived. Our schools are clean. Our children who had left to find employment in faraway places, have returned to join the CWP. The CWP unites families, it’s wonderful.

We are now in a position to pay our electricity bills, buy groceries, and put aside money for funeral cover.

As the elders of Erasmus we wish to extend our gratitude to Seriti for believing in us from the beginning and for launching the Organisation Workshop before the CWP was born. The workshop helped remind us how good we are at pulling together, at organising, and at how much we can achieve if we all work as one. Thank you Seriti, and thank you CWP.

The Elders of Erasmus

Mthelu Aphiwe

Dear Seriti

My name is Mthelu from the Eastern Cape. After completing my matric in 2007 I couldn’t further my studies because my parents couldn’t afford to take me to tertiary. I stayed at home for three years looking for a job and could not find any. At that time my bursary application at a university was rejected. That is when my sister invited me to live with her in Krugersdorp where, I later joined the Community Work Programme (CWP).

With the stipend I received, my sister encouraged me to use it to pay for my tuition fees. I am now studying for a Bachelor of Education with UNISA Senior Intermediate Phase. The stipend that I receive every month I deposit it into the school’s account, while my sister helps me with transport fare so I can submit my assignments.

I am grateful to CWP for giving me the opportunity to succeed in life, yes things are a bit difficult for me right now but the thought that everything will pass keeps me going. With my sister’s support I know that someday I will live my dream. My sister is also a CWP participant who also studies at UNISA, with the CWP stipend she is able to pay rent and Saturday extra classes. We are truly blessed to have the CWP in our community because it gives us a chance to make it in life.


Mthelu Aphiwe

Josiah Menyatso

'Since this project started in our area I appreciate the cleanliness of our township because nobody wants to live where it is dirty. Now we are like in town, because our township is maintained on a daily basis.' - Josiah Menyatso, a 69-year-old pensioner.

Can you suggest useful work for the CWP in your community?

How many eyes has a typical person?