Makgatla Thepa-Lephale describes herself as a social activist, academic and occasional writer, and is renowned in her village for founding and growing the Ponelopele Reading Club — an initiative that teaches local children how to read and write.
Originally housed in a tin shack structure, the reading club has upgraded to a permanent brick building, thanks to the money she has helped raise for the nongovernmental organisation. This means that more and more children are spending time at the reading club, learning the basics and also taking part in other activities, including chess, after-school camps led by university students and various sports.
Passionate about the power of books, Makgatla wants to inspire young people to start reading movements in their villages, townships and suburbs. She believes that a solid foundation produces innovative, well-rounded leaders who will use the knowledge they gain from books as a way to better their lives and the lives of those around them.
When she’s not busy expanding the minds of local children via the reading club, she challenges herself in new ways. She took on a role as a part-time lecturer at Capricorn College for TVET and discovered that she’s a natural — she produced a 100% pass rate for the public finance class she taught, even though she had no previous experience in lecturing.
Her mantra through all of this?
“Never be afraid of failure, it is better to try and fail, than postpone your dreams” — words of wisdom that she has instilled in the children of Dipateng, her home village, too.