There is nothing quite as fulfilling as a group of leaners, working in solidarity; striving to feel the warm embrace of their dreams. Despite the piercing cold of the Gauteng Winter mornings, and the weight carried on the backs of the learners because of the several layers of clothing that winter requires; these learners soldiered on. They marched in eagerness, with joy painted all over their hopeful faces. Their enthusiasm for learning, even when most of their peers lay comfortably in bed, utters something commanding about these learners. It shows that like Lupita Nyongo, Ikamvanites believe that their dreams are valid; and they moreover identified IkamvaYouth as a vehicle to making their dreams manifest.

Week one of the annual Ikamva Youth winter school kicked off with a thought provoking English fundamental worksheet, which inspired reflection about the efficiency of non-violent protests. Answers varied, but there was no denying that planting a vision and working towards it is powerful; especially when looking at civil rights protest leader Martin Luther King, Jr and our very own, Nelson Mandela. The English fundamental activity was a particularly imperative one because it not only created a space for the learners to polish their grammar and add new words to their already impressive vocabularies, but it also created a space for the learners to sharpen their eye for social responsibility and transformation; especially since South Africa just celebrated its 21st celebration as a democracy.

As the week progressed, the sun came out to send its salutations; giving the learners and the tutors an added excitement which increased the already jubilant mood in the tutoring hall. This excitement demonstrated by the Ikamvanites for their studies manifests itself with high levels of concentration, inquisitiveness and hunger for knowledge; and of cause a few chuckles here and there. Ikamvanites have made the mandate clear; their aspirations are legitimate and excellent marks will make them come true, hence their constant submission to the tutoring lessons.

The annual Ikamva Youth Winter School prides itself in not only being an agent of positive change for Ikamvanites; but also a source of knowledge from external influences. On the 2nd of July 2015, the Ebony Park branch welcomed education students from the University Of Missouri (USA), who visited Ikamva Youth to acquire information about the alternative learning methods that Ikamva uses and the vast achievements that Ikamva has had with respect to academic excellence and learner placements post matric. Lesedi Ramushu, a Wits Accounting student and tutor at Ikamva expressed that the multicultural interaction given by the students from the University of Missouri opened his eyes to the fact that education is a universal phenomenon. According to Ramushu, Ikamva has enabled him to come to the realization that when people unite, the world becomes smaller and better.

Mphoentle Mogorosi, a grade 9 Ikamvanite excitedly announced that she would rather be at the Ikamva Youth Winter School, than at home sleeping; because getting help with her academics is an investment to her future. Bongiwe Zulu, a grade 11 learner added that waking up in the morning in winter has proved to be very difficult, but the vision that she has set out for herself pushes her out of her warm blankets every morning. Whilst listening to these inspiring learners, Nelson Mandela’s words occupied my mind, reminding me that truly; education is the most powerful tool that can change a child of a domestic worker and transform him/her to being a president of a great nation.

Ex-Ikamvanite Ntebaleng Morake had this to say “When we say IkamvaYouth: the future is in our hands, we are not merely uttering these words; rather we are planting a seed of greatness that will catapult the continent. It lifts my spirit to see young people, laboring hard in their studies to give our country and continent the gift of service”. As we wrap up week one of the winter school, there is so much anticipation for next week.

Do you know how a thirst for knowledge looks like? Come to IkamvaYouth and experience it for yourself.