From Theory to Practice: My First Branch Visit
By: Damien Buckton – Fundraising Officer
It has been a month since I started in my new role. I joined IkamvaYouth in the capacity of Fundraising Officer. Since I started I had learnt about the organisation theoretically, and then recently, I took my first trip to one of our branches and visited our Atlantis Branch. This is a short write up of the day I spent at the branch getting a first-hand look at our work in action.
Arriving at Atlantis, I quickly got a feel of the atmosphere. Before we could settle down and meet the branch staff, the branch office was a hive of activity. The branch lead, Yanga Totyi, was attending to the learners and registering them for the day, going through the COVID-19 protocols. The branch tutors were coming in and out of the office to source learning materials. The branch office felt like home. Each member of the family including staff, tutors and learners felt familiar with their home and were comfortable moving around, accessing the resources they needed to start the sessions.
As the tutoring started, I made my way to the different classrooms where the tutors revised previous test papers with the learners. I was fortunate enough to sit in on some of the sessions, observe the tutors and learners. I got to witness the learner-driven model, and peer to peer support as learners were bundled up in groups tackling challenging subjects together.
After sitting and chatting with Yanga, I was given some insight into this unique branch. Established in 2016, the Atlantis Branch has been steadily growing over the years.
No stranger to adversity, in the early stages of the branch’s inception, the branch faced some challenges at its original location, eventually moving to Robinvale High School. The tenacity of the staff has seen growth in tutor and learner numbers. The relationship the branch staff, teachers and parents have nurtured has also strengthened the branch. In the past year, the branch had its highest number of matric learners, matric pass rate, and bachelor’s passes since inception. The matric class of 2020 achieved a 98% pass rate with 63% attaining a Bachelor’s pass.
What was particularly inspiring about the visit was seeing IkamvaYouth’s values in action. One of IkamvaYouth’s values is Paying-It-Forward. The tutors I had a chance to interact with were IkamvaYouth Alumni themselves, who believed that by “Paying it forward” they are directly giving back and supporting other learners just as they were supported when they were in school.
One of the tutors Leeroy’s words had a great impact on me, as they made me understand the long term impact of the programme beyond the branch. He said “Some of us were the first to pass and access tertiary in our family. We have led by example, showing the younger brothers, sisters and cousins that it’s possible. My contribution to this branch is to also support learners and make sure that they are that example to their family”. His words are in essence our mission: To enable disadvantaged youth to pull themselves and each other out of poverty and into tertiary education and/or employment.
I am excited to be part of the IkamvaYouth team, contributing to the organisation’s fundraising goals, and being part of this mission. I look forward to visiting the rest of the branches and continuing to experience the important work we are doing.