Finally! The Mamelodi branch in Pretoria is officially opened. The 8th of March 2014 saw IkamvaYouth and our sponsor ABI working closely together in organising together a successful Open Day and Media Launch for the branch. The community came out in numbers to support this initiative and so did the learners, who would not miss the day their very own branch is launched.

The events that occurred prior to the branch being established were not tranquil. A venue had to be secured, an MOU had to be signed, and learners needed to be recruited from the surrounding schools. For a branch to fully function, volunteers have to also be recruited.

The day started off with our energetic MC Tshegofatso Thulare, Ivory Park Branch Coordinator, welcoming everyone and thereafter introducing Mr Jokazi. He is the principal of the college from which the branch is based. He started off by giving a warm welcome to everyone present and him reiterating the importance of education and the history of the college. The college at which the branch is based was a primary school years ago which was then left vacant and thereafter devastatingly vandalised. The college was established a few years ago and its role in the community is of high relevance. It serves as an Adult College which also seeks to assist and provide education to township learners who’s aim is to access tertiary and/or the equivalent. The college is called The Mamelodi State Centre for Adult Education situated in Mamelodi West, N Section.

Plenty of speeches were delivered that day, Patrick Mashanda the District Coordinator informed everyone about the IkamvaYouth model and how we work and how it then results to the impact we have had for the past ten years. Zamo Shongwe our National Coordinator gave an informative talk about the culture of volunteerism and the effect and benefits it has in one’s life. She also mentioned how volunteers contribute to the running and daily operations of a branch and in doing that one then gains skills which then adds to their career development.

Helen Makhubela an alumna gave a motivating and encouraging speech to the learners, she attested on the impact IkamvaYouth has on the learner and one’s academic and social life in its entirety. She was then followed by her mother who also informed us about the changes in which she saw in her daughter after months of joining IkamvaYouth. Many faces lifted up as she spoke about her daughter and how proud she is of her especially when boasting about the bachelor degree pass in matric her daughter obtained after 3 years of IkamvaYouth.

As mentioned above when we first saw what was to be Mamelodi branch, the block in which we were supposed to work from was vandalised to the extreme and the space was uninspiring for an IkamvaYouth branch, to say the least. Our sponsor ABI came in and viewed the space and happily agreed to refurbish the block of classrooms, computer lab and office space. That left us with a space that stimulates and cultivates learning. After most of the renovations had been done, ABI brought in their employees and Ikamvayouth theirs, to come in and add final touches to the branch by painting and trimming the walls, a day which they call CSI Day. This took place on the 13th and 14th of February 2014 which we all boast was a successful event.

Peirre Bleeker the ABI General Manager for the North Region also shed light on the ABI CSI department in its entirety during the Open Day. He mentioned the amount of work that goes into this department, the selflessness of ABI employees who give off themselves in every project that they are involved with was the greater part of his speech.

For any branch to sustain and create the impact it aims to create a relationship with the Department of Education in that region has to be established and this was successfully  done in the Mamelodi branch in Pretoria. On the day, Department of Education official, Pranay  Devchand engaged us in his speech which he emphasised to the learners the importance of having confidence in themselves, taking ownership for your future ,academics and importantly for them to aim high and to give it all they have got as they are the future of this country.

The day ended with Cheryl Nzama, Branch Coordinator for the Mamelodi branch thanking everyone that had supported the day and importantly the learners and volunteers who willingly joined the program. She then reiterated to the learners that everything does start with you and it’s up to the learners to set their standards high for the newly opened branch as they are the first cohort of learners ever. Afterwards the signage for the branch which stands right next to the main entrance was revealed.

We would like to thank everyone, partners and stakeholders, school principals and learners that assisted in making this day a success and playing their part in ensuring that the branch is sustainable, resourceful and importantly inspiring and conducive to learning.