Nyanga teen takes lead in making a difference

Grade 9 pupil at Wittebome High, Anethemba Mangcotywa announcing intentions for her Refiloe Foundation on the radio.

The heartbreak of seeing other young people go to school with torn clothes, and some with empty stomachs has inspired a 15-year-old Nyanga teenager to establish her own foundation to help those in need.

After putting in some thought of what could help her age group and younger, Anethemba Mangcotywa has finally announced her foundation, Refiloe. She has roped in her school mates, Imakhe Magaba and Asenathi Ncinane, who she described as very “helpful and generous“ young people with good hearts.

Anethemba founded the Refiloe Foundation this month to educate girls on social challenges, as well as provide packs of sanitary pads, food, and clothes to the needy. She also aims to have a space where only young girls can sit and speak about their challenges.

Announcing her plans to Vukani, she said: “I want to have a girl talk where teenagers of my age can sit and talk. We sometimes do not talk about everything or do not divulge everything to our parents. So I think it would be good to have a space where the platform is for us. I would have social workers that would at least give us direction and advice.”

She also wants to keep young girls in school. She said she has seen young people running away from school because they don’t have clothes that are rated as the most expensive.

“Some of us who are from disadvantaged homes are bullied and harassed because we are not having what is perceived as good clothes; Clothes with (name brand) tags. I would say to those, please accept yourself and your situation. You are at school because your parents want you to change the cycle of poverty to those who are from wealthy and rich families, please leave us alone. Enjoy what you have but their support to those who have nothing would be helpful and accepted,” she told Vukani.

The charitable Grade 9 pupil at Wittebome high school said she was looking for support from anyone who is willing to do so.

She said that support would ensure needy people access not only food but education, dignity and health. “I will be looking for generous people who know what poverty and hunger is. People who are willing to change other people’s lives. We are now experiencing floods and you can imagine how many people will be living in the halls without food and clothes. This is where we collectively need to intervene,” she boldly said.

Her mother Nomalizo Fikizolo said she was happy with what her daughter was doing but shocked at the same time. “She is only 15 years and I did not expect this from her at her tender age. This is something that should be done by me and other seniors. But I am happy that she is that intelligent and charitable. She has also brought hope to me that I have a daughter with a beautiful heart. But as I have mentioned, she has surprised me with this initiative,” she said.

Anethemba has spent the last week visiting media houses including local radio stations. For those who want to assist, contact her on 073 129 0066.

Zibonele Radio’s Lizeka “Liz” Khweleni and her co-host Athenkosi “Dukx” Phukuza after hosting Anethemba at their station last week Tuesday.