Since the earliest days of IY’s existence, ikamvanites have dreamed of extending our reach to the province from where many of us originate and – given the abysmal academic performance and other challenges – we’re clearly needed. We’re now thrilled to announce that, thanks to key IY supporters including Capitec and the Learning Trust, IkamvaYouth is looking to establish the first of hopefully many branches in the province. 

Co-founder of IkamvaYouth, Makhosi Gogwana, is based in the province and is the backbone of the Chief Directorate for Local Economic Development support to municipalities. He’s very keen to support the organisation’s expansion to many areas, and says “I am always thinking about the work of IkamvaYouth with huge satisfaction… I salute all of you.” 

I was fortunate to meet with many other individuals and organisations doing very interesting and inspirational work in Grahamstown in February, and due to the enthusiastic and supportive response from each of them, we have decided to establish the first EC branch in Grahamstown 🙂

Rhodes University’s Centre for Community Engagement is a central collaborative hub for community-based organisations, integrating student volunteerism and service learning opportunities. Di Hornby and Margie Keeton expressed their support for the IY model, and affirmed the need for our programme (and, we’re all hoping, replicated results!) in Grahamstown. The Centre’s report on Community Engagement provides a useful and inspiring overview of the centre and its partners’ work. 

I also met with Shireen Badat from Upstart, and was very excited to learn about her talented and hardworking grade 10s who need ongoing academic support in order to improve their academic results and especially their performance in matric. Have a look at the learners’ latest edition of the awesome Upstart paper: Youth Speaking to Power.

Jan Blom came all the way from Nemato (The Nelson Mandela Township, between East London and PE) to meet with me, and his incredible story affirmed the commitment and passion that exists in the area. His organisation, Nemato Change a Life, is doing incredible work in providing ongoing and long-term support to the youth of the area, enabling them to access opportunities and improve their lives. They also place great emphasis on commitment, and we spoke about ways to integrate Nemato Change a Life’s sports programmes, and integrating IY’s academic and career guidance programmes for the Nemato youth.

Finally, I met with Anna and Rob from the Village Scribe Association, where they introduced me to Awarenet. Most fortuitous, as we’ve been trying to figure out a way for ikamvanites to leverage social networking on the ikamvanitezone in a way that’s distinct and separated from the general noise on Facebook. Our developers have since been working away to connect Awarenet with the Zone, and it’ll very soon be available to every ikamvanite to connect, share and learn with each other between branches and indeed with other learners across the country. 

It is clear that each of the organisations I met share our values and we are very much looking forward to linking and collaborating with them. Next steps for us are hiring a regional coordinator, finding a venue and securing additional funding. 

With Rhodes as a welcoming partner and the many organisations keen to collaborate, we’re feeling very positive about taking the first steps in establishing our first IYEC branch. Clearly, the real challenge that we will address in the coming years is extending the IY model into rural areas, and our plan is for the Grahamstown branch to become a central hub from which far further-reaching activities will emanate. 

Nemato, Axium and the Village Scribe Association are all doing really interesting work in challenging rural environments, and IY is looking forward to learning from, partnering with and eventually extending the model so that it’s no longer limited by the need for proximity to university campuses for volunteers. We’re looking forward to leveraging technology and the experiences of those who’re currently engaged in improving education in rural areas, so watch this space!