Moeletji Mapheto doesn’t see growing up in the rural community of Ga-Mphahlele in Limpopo as a disadvantage. Instead, Mapheto sees her upbringing as filled with opportunity. “Success doesn’t mean making it out of the village,” she says. “Sometimes success is going back to the village and fixing it. It is ensuring that we lift others as we rise.”
Lifting others up is what Mapheto does best. She has taken 25 learners under her personal care. She helps them through school, builds their confidence and assists them in applying for university and jobs. Through her work with the community, Mapheto has also helped build flushing toilets for a school in need and convert a classroom into a much-needed library.
Mapheto’s Ga-Mphahlele Home-Coming initiative is a way of giving back. Through it she brings together like-minded individuals looking to find solutions to the problems faced by rural communities.
“I want the most forgotten parts of this country to be acknowledged and represented fairly and justly,” Mapheto says.
“I want the rural child … to feel seen.”
Most recently, Mapheto has helped tackle some of the crises triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Identifying the most vulnerable in Limpopo — including child-headed and low-income households — Mapheto headed up a project that fed 1 000 families and provided schools with face masks, sanitisers and sanitary pads to ensure that they could reopen safely. Mapheto’s dream is a big one: to eradicate poverty in rural communities.
“My one motivation every single morning is knowing we are well on our way to breaking generational poverty through our projects,” she says.
“We start with one child at a time, one learner at a time, one family at a time. And we ensure that their dignity is intact, because we believe that poverty alleviation starts with dignity preservation.”