It’s often said that you must look for the stars when it’s dark and for the rainbow when it’s raining, and Siviwe Dlukwana (25) had to do precisely that after losing his brother to gangsterism.
“It was 2003 and he had just passed his Grade 11. He was looking forward to doing his matric. My brother’s passing was a huge loss and unexpected. That’s when I realised that crime was rife in our communities. It affected families and I had to make a conscious decision about my life,” recollects Siviwe, a resident of crime-infested Crossroads in Cape Town.
“That place is what people term as a ‘no-go area,’” he adds, and a soft chuckle follows.
Today Siviwe oozes with confidence, and thinks carefully before he speaks. But his younger self had to bear the sound of his mother as she helplessly blocked his father’s strong fists.
“My father used to drink and get aggressive. One time my parents fought and the kitchen cupboard hit me on my eye.
“But that incident was the turning point in our lives, the last straw. My father regretted it so much. He repented and started going to church. He stopped drinking and became a loving father to his wife and children.”
With that said, his brother left a void that nothing could ever fill.
“It was never easy for me as a young boy cos I needed that big brother for protection and comfort. However, I kept on pushing and I stuck to my religious teachings. My brother was my inspiration cos he cared for his studies irrespective of what he did after school. He was a victim of peer pressure. It’s difficult to keep your life together where we live.”
Education was the only escape available to Siviwe.
“I told myself I needed to go on and allow his spirit to push me forward. But the sad reality is you can’t always get the best out of our local schools. I kept on looking for a better education,” he adds that he got admission at one of the good schools in Cape Town.
Siviwe then completed his matric in 2009 with flying colours and tertiary was his next stop.
“I went to UWC to do teaching in 2010. As much as getting to varsity was an achievement, I owed it to myself to make sure that more children reached that level. I established my organisation in 2012, Ikamva Labantwana’ (Children’s Future) that aimed at tutoring pupils in my area. That same year I dropped out of varsity to follow my heart desire.
“It was a turning point in my life. My family disapproved. But I learnt that you need to give what you want in order to receive it back. Put yourself first cos you know your heart desires better.”
Siviwe saw the need to start a programme that would help children with their academics.
“Tutors from different varsities come on board. We come from similar backgrounds. Ikamva is a platform to give back to our community as we were once in those children’s shoes. We focus on Grade 4-7s. They can be easily groomed. We help them build strong characters and instil important values at an early age.”
Out of the first ever group of children that Ikamva worked with, ten of them were awarded scholarships in their secondary and are now in their second year in different varsities.
“We’ve partnered with the Western Cape Department of Education to train interns to become tutors. We target those who’re taking gap years. They get deployed to schools and help teachers with their day-to-day duties as teachers have a lot on their plate. We’re helping them become employable and earn while they are taking a break.
Despite boasting a number of achievements, Siviwe says Ikamva is slightly changing its approach.
“We’re thinking about holistic development. We’ve found out that excelling in academics alone is not enough. Social support is needed as well to deal with complex psychological issues. For example, one of our children’s father was shot in front of her. We see the need to include programmes that will help deal with things that could potentially interfere with their academics.”
Siviwe currently employs a full staff of about ten people, but cites lack of funding as a threat to his vision.
“We currently have about 120 children from different school in Crossroads. We also have a shortage of reading material and text books as well. We’re constantly looking for funding to keep these children in school,” concludes Siviwe who was a participant of the internationally acclaimed Mandela Washington Fellowship in 2017.
You can read more about Ikamva Labantwana via their website www.ikamvalabantwana.org
Tell us: What’s that one thing that you learnt from Siviwe as an individual?