Philile Majola is a young, ambitious woman who grew up in Intshanga, a tiny rural settlement in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Philile was raised by a single parent; a very strong and wise woman who was, and still is, a role model to her. Philile is pursuing a career in education and is a student at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Edgewood. She is a young woman filled with beautiful dreams such as changing the world one day. Through her career choice she’s hoping to have considerable influence over young minds for a better future.
As a Resident Assistant she helps to run one of the girls’ residences at Edgewood Campus. She has managed to create many life programs to help young girls feel confident about themselves. She recently launched a program where old, but still good condition clothes, were donated to an orphanage home. Together, Philile and I founded Woza Education (WE), a non-profit educational organization; more on that will be covered during the interview. I sat down to chat with Philile about her work and future plans.
Being so influential in your residence through the life-changing programs that you run, helping out as a tutor at Edgewood, running the Woza Education organization, and being a student, how do you keep your energy intact?
You know it’s very interesting that you asked me that. It’s a question I get most of the time. So what I do is I keep a ‘to do list’ that I prepare the day before. The list is just a reminder of what I’m supposed to do that day. This is so that I don’t waste my energy and time doing unnecessary things. Sometimes it does get hard, you know. I mean I am a student and I have tons of assignments to complete. It means sometimes I have to prioritize and put other plans on hold. That way, I know how to channel my energy directly to that specific moment or activity.
In one of the conversations we had, you spoke of using education as an instrumentto influence young minds and help young people. Can you explain more about that?
I’m glad you brought that up. You know where I come from you find that many young people are lost to drugs. They are hopeless, bored and caught up in a lot of stuff that is pointless…there’s just no progression, you know. Growing up, I was lucky to have this opportunity to even study in a university, to study for a Bachelor of Education. So I thought to myself, I need to add more value to my life than just studying to become a teacher, which is why we created Woza Education together, Rick, to help young people restore their hope, their dreams and find purpose again. In my residence I also seek to educate young girls the best way I can through the res life programs so that they can begin to believe in themselves.
These Res Life Programs you talk about; can you elaborate on them?
Oh, so there’s the Charity Fashion program, this one is basically about encouraging the philosophy of Ubuntu. It’s umm…it’s about donating old clothes that are still in a good condition of course. We then use these clothes to launch a fashion show where we showcase them on models. That way, people who receive the clothes will see that they are in good condition and that they are wearable.
There is another programme where I work together with my Res Life Organizer (RLO), to raise funds for kids at a nearby orphanage. Those kids are so talented, many they can sick. Fortunately for them, one of our guests was generous enough to donate an amount close to
R 70 000 with his team.
Then there is a programme that came out of my becoming aware that many students when they return home for the holidays have food left in their fridges and cupboards. So what I did was to ask them to give it away to those who need it. I asked the aunties in the residence to cook it and dish it for the brothers and sisters who live and sleep on the street.
Wow! You do an amazing job with these programmes. Can you describe Woza Education?
Well the clue is in the name of the organization, Woza Education (WE) is a forward-thinking non-profit organization founded by myself, and you of course. The essence of the organization is education. The name was motivated by the realization that in order for the transformation of the current education system, there is a need to come (Woza) together to tackle the issues and collaboratively and collectively come up with solid solutions. It was also inspired by the conceptual understanding of inclusive education, which strives to include all learners in education regardless of differences.
If there’s anything that keeps you awake at night, what is it?
It’s the question, “Have I done enough?” I always ask myself that question. Sometimes I ask myself at the end of the day if I have done enough to fulfil my dreams, if I have taken any steps closer to doing that.
You’re an amazing woman and I’m pretty sure there are many people that look up to you. What message do you have for them or for the youth?
All I have to say is have dreams and turn them to goals, don’t limit your dreams. Have them at whatever magnitude you want, but be realistic also. I have realized that many of the youth limit themselves and they don’t believe in themselves that much. Believe in yourselves, please! It’s very important to surround yourself with people who have a positive mind-set, so have friends that encourage you to be more than what you are right now.