Rural Development Projects

Share their story

Lena Rametse, 27

Veterinary receptionist
Blue Hills Veterinary Hospital

Through her work on the Miss Phenomenal Queen South Africa pageant, Lena Rametse hopes to empower women in her community while bringing attention to the scourge of domestic violence in our society. Through her work on Miss Phenomenal Queen, Rametse gained some international recognition when she was invited to Norway to discuss the empowerment work done through Miss Phenomenal Queen, but the real validation has been the interest shown by the young women who reach out to her regularly to tell her how she has inspired them to reach for their dreams. Rametse points to her mother, who worked as a domestic worker and whose support was invaluable to her growing up, as the inspiration for her determination to achieve. As the first person in her family to travel and be recognised internationally, she wants to show young women that there is no limit to your goals if you put in the hard work.

“I hope at the end of my journey I have done absolutely everything in my power to make sure every single person has the opportunity to receive the best healthcare and treatment, whatever their financial or social standing.”

Author - Anita Makgetla
Minah Mkhavele, 35

Minah Mkhavele, 35

Case manager and GDSD girl child ambassador
Gauteng Department of Social Development

Minah Mkhavele is a social worker who is finalising her master’s in child protection. Working with children is something Mkhavele has a great interest in. One of her proudest moments was when she reached out to six rural communities to provide them with sanitary towels and toiletries. She managed to set up meetings with community leaders and created lasting relationships with them. Through her mentorship, several of the young girls have registered at university and are doing well. Mkhavele says she loves her work because she gets to interact with many different people from different backgrounds. She has this advice for young people: “Utilise your youthful times wisely, because some job opportunities in South Africa involve an element of ageism. If it means studying, study — and if it means starting a business, start as soon as you can.”

Our collective academic life is so much richer when scholars write books on topics that they are truly passionate about and that tackle challenging questions.

Fatima Moosa | mg.co.za
Mzwakhe Xulu, 27

Mzwakhe Xulu, 27

Educator
Calibrating Minds Society

Mzwakhe Xulu is the cofounder of Calibrating Minds Society, a non-profit organisation that advances academic excellence high schools in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal. As the organisation’s chairperson, Xulu oversees tutoring, career expo and interschool debating programmes. He also runs the annual Empangeni Debating League. “Learners who participate in these debating competitions enhance their self-confidence and gain the skills necessary for professional and academic success,” he says. In just under a year as an educator at Zakhe Agricultural College, Xulu was appointed as a lead educator by the KwaZulu-Natal department of education. This was in 2016, after his school’s matric results were the best in the district under his tutelage. “I’d like to equip young people to be great communicators and leaders, who claim a stake in the discourse on issues that affect our country and contribute meaningful solutions towards the challenges we face in the 21st century.”

Where and who you are now is no reflection of who and where you will be tomorrow.

Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha | mg.co.za
Nomsa Tshingowe, 30

Nomsa Tshingowe, 30

Social worker
Department of social development, Sekhukhune district, Cancer 0 Thirty 5 Non Profit Organization

Nomsa Tshingowe, founder of Cancer 0 Thirty 5 Foundation, had just completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Venda when she was diagnosed with stage three osteosarcoma cancer. She underwent 18 cycles of chemotherapy and two surgeries, then researched the disease and sought out others going through the same experience. “I never saw myself as a victim or blamed anyone for my misfortune. At the time I was diagnosed, I didn’t have any information about cancer,” says Tshingowe. “Even though it was not easy fighting cancer, I was more focused on the positive outcome.” Using her master’s in public health from the University of Limpopo and through her organisation, Tshingowe provides support and raises awareness for cancer survivors. Her work has earned her participation in parliamentary budget speeches for the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities.

We want to grow Feenix so we can continue to support hundreds of thousands of students. We don’t only want to support their funding needs but we want to ensure young people are good citizens and are able to find purposeful work and contribute to society.

Mosibudi Ratlebjane | mg.co.za
Lydia Sono, 34

Lydia Sono, 34

Activist
Lydia Sono Foundation

Lydia Sono hails from rural Schoemansdal in Mpumalanga, where she is a renowned and openly gay community activist. Her advocacy campaign to end hate crimes began after she and her partner were on the receiving end of a harrowing experience, which she has spoken freely about in the media. The intention behind sharing her story as a rape survivor is to increase awareness of the plight of women and LGBTIQ+ people in her community. She looks to encourage affected persons to come forward with their own experiences, which bears the life-affirming byproduct of uniting people. Her eponymous foundation’s presence in the community is one of warmth and support, disseminating knowledge about issues such as sexuality, identity and gender-based violence. Lydia’s love for her community is unequivocally reciprocated — in 2017 she won the Sunrise Woman Award, an accolade that recognises the excellence of women in different fields.

I would encourage anyone who has a passion, drive or idea to improve South Africa to start doing something, not to wait for certification, a career or a title.
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Young people in South Africa are creative; innovative and resilient; we need to recognise this in ourselves earlier on.

Zia Haffejee | mg.co.za
Hope Matsila, 31

Hope Matsila, 31

Attorney and social impact advocate
The Mindful Catalyst Blog

Hope Matsila started her post-university career as an attorney in corporate governance and compliance management. It wasn’t until she was able to travel and work overseas that she realised the severity of the inequalities that plague South Africa and many other Third World and developing countries. This realisation became a crucial pivoting point for her. Upon returning to South Africa just ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, she shifted focus to human rights law, and more specifically the UN Social Development Goals. The development goals she is primarily interested in pertain to poverty reduction, education and the upliftment of women in society. In pursuing these goals, she started The Mindful Catalyst blog to share her advocacy work and inspire people to use their own platforms to advocate for socioeconomic rights at grassroots level. As her blog title implies, she hopes to be a catalyst for change in South Africa and abroad.

When you reach for a challenging goal you may fail, but even in failure there is immense opportunity for growth.

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Clive Mathe, 30

Clive Mathe, 30

Founder and chief executive
KURAI

Clive Mathe is the founding chief executive of KURAI, a company that uses drone technology and artificial intelligence to help farmers. KURAI offers timely and reliable information to farmers, helping them make more accurate decisions, which translates into better crop yields and increased farm productivity. Mathe holds a degree in aeronautical engineering and a masters of business administration, both from Wits University, where he graduated as one of the top students in his class. When asked how he would advise his younger self, he says: “Keep walking that path which you embarked on from the very beginning. Turn not to the right or the left, but focus on the upward and forward direction only.” His hope is for a prosperous Africa that realises that the treasure lies in the minds of its youth.

Diligence in the small things is critical, because the small things become the big things.

Oratile Mashazi | mg.co.za
Asandiswa Smouse, 31

Asandiswa Smouse, 31

Executive coach
Asa Smouse coaching & consulting

Asa Smouse is dedicated to ensuring people get the most out of their lives and work. To do this, she coaches businesses and their employees in optimising mental wellness at work. She also runs a non-profit organisation that helps counter the effects of domestic violence and other societal ills. Through her work, Smouse has learnt that mental wellbeing lies in embracing the past and living in the present. She has discovered that to be overly focused on the next goal means you often don’t get to enjoy your successes as they happen; to ignore or hide the failures of the past is to try to eliminate the things that make you unique. Instead, Smouse lives by a “there is no there” philosophy that encourages you to take time to enjoy each day as it comes, and to not forget how far you have come along on your journey.

Everyday is a new chance to play some small role in facilitating the healing of another human being and hopefully change their life for the better.

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Mlondi Mkhize, 20

Mlondi Mkhize, 20

Human rights activist and radio content producer
Ugu Youth Radio

At just 20 years old, Mlondi Mkhize is studying public relations and communication sciences at Durban University of Technology, working at the Ugu Youth Radio station as a content producer, and is a human rights activist in his township, Gamalakhe. His social activism centres on issues in his community, including mental health, rape and gender-based violence, LGBTIQ+ issues and poverty. Through his work, he creates safe spaces where young people can discuss their collective experiences, expand awareness within the community and gain a better understanding of the complexity of their issues. They can then create programmes and projects to make their community safer, more progressive and more inclusive. Some of the projects he has already initiated include uniform and sanitary towel drives, and the first LGBTIQ+ dialogue to be held in his township. He hopes to encourage others to be more active around issues that affect them and their communities.

Seek truth and significance over success.

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Kgomotso Mphela, 31

Kgomotso Mphela, 31

Founder and programme manager
Kgomotso Children’s Centre, and Gauteng Women's Forum

Our lived experiences shape the paths we follow. After being sexually abused as a child, Kgomotso Mphela wanted to have a positive impact on the vulnerable in her community. At just 17, she founded Kgomotso Children’s Centre. “It caters to over 500 children in and around Soshanguve and Wintervelt. These are kids from underprivileged families, abusive homes, child-headed households and the like,” she says. Through the centre, she created more than 70 job opportunities in 2020. On top of this, she founded Gauteng Women’s Forum, a platform to address gender-based global issues and instigate healing through developmental programmes. Mphela is currently working towards a diploma in early childhood development at Ed-U College. She gets her drive to help others from the smiles she sees on young people’s faces. “When I serve, it gives me goosebumps,” she says. Mphela wants to help build a society of enthusiastic new leaders, not another sad generation.

I would like to see South Africa advocating for justice in the politics of health.

Lineo Leteba | mg.co.za