Siphelo’s Journey – The Maggie Rowley Sinenjongo Assistance Fund’s First beneficiary
In remembrance of Maggie Rowley and the tremendous impact she made during her lifetime, as well as continuing the legacy of the burning passion she had for uplifting the youngsters of Sinenjongo High School, Rabie launched the Maggie Rowley Sinenjongo Assistance Fund in 2020, says John Chapman, Director at Rabie.
Grade 12 students at the school were invited to apply in March 2020, and from those applicants, the top four students as ranked by academic performance, were chosen for the shortlist. Interviews were conducted with the four candidates and the selection criteria, with a heavy weighting on academic ability, also included the determination of attributes such as purpose, energy, and clarity of direction.
The first Maggie Rowley Sinenjongo Assistance Fund beneficiary is Siphelo Duba, who enrolled as first year Mechanical Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch.
“Driving him on his first day of orientation, Siphelo kept on expressing how nervous and excited he was at the same time.” says Linea Abdullatief, Marketing Co-ordinator at Rabie who accompanied Siphelo on his first day.
Arriving at his residence, Siphelo was welcomed with such camaraderie by second and final year students, that he was beaming with excitement as they performed a song and dance to welcome him. “As we toured the residence, he whispered to me that he would have to bulk up to be like one of the guys.” says Linea.
The MRSAF gave Siphelo an opportunity to feel included with his fellow students. A young man from a single parent home living in an impoverished community in Joe Slovo, is now afforded the same opportunities as students from other backgrounds.
“It is taken for granted that your parents buy you the necessary items you need for university”, explains Chapman. “When we explain what the MRSAF is about, it is often confused with a bursary, which it is not. It’s about filling the gap between what other young people take for granted and what young men like Siphelo just don’t have, with no means of getting there. And it’s not only about the physical needs – if you share a room with another student from a privileged and even middle-class background and all you have is a single blanket, it has a severe impact on your self esteem and ability to concentrate on your studies and performance.”
Siphelo received a start-up kit which included a laptop, educational material, residence uniform, bedding, crockery and cutlery and a new wardrobe. In addition, the MRSAF also ensures that he receives a monthly stipend to cover his monthly expenses whilst living and studying on campus.
In the beginning of the year, Siphelo could attend social events such as hiking, and he was even chosen as the first-year committee leader for the 7th floor of his residence. Unfortunately, the impact of Covid has had a severe impact on how classes are presented, and Siphelo had to adjust to online learning, with which he was not familiar with. With additional restrictions, He does miss the interaction of meeting new students on campus and exploring Stellenbosch. However, even when confined to his dorm room, Siphelo tries to remain positive and uses the extra time to study.
Siphelo explains “The experience at the University has not been pleasant at most times due to the restrictions, as I could not go out to enjoy Stellenbosch. However, with the assistance of MRSAF, I have been able to stay on top of my work as I was able to purchase tool kits for Preparatory Technical Drawings, a module I take in the second semester. Apart from the university expenses, I am also able to purchase clothing, personal hygiene items and food. I am grateful to have the MRSAF, as it is not only assisting me with the University expenses itself, but also adjusting in my new environment.”
The highlight of Siphelo’s year was being featured on Afternoon Express Show on SABC3, who shone some light on the MRSAF and its first beneficiary.
Entries for the 2022 year have been received and the top ten by academic performance has been selected. Rabie will be interviewing the top five applicants later in the year, whereafter the second beneficiary will be announced in due course.