Raudina - Bridging for Life

"When my life was quickly falling out of my hands and reality was not within reach, I felt helpless. I needed to find a way out somehow, someone or something to influence me in a better way by helping me out of the major hole I had dug myself into.

It all began when my parents separated. My siblings and I had to choose which parent we wanted to live with and when we chose mom, we lost contact with dad. I could not accept the fact that my parents were separated and that I was not going to see dad anymore. I was an emotional mess. I was angry and somehow blamed myself for their separation.

We lived with mom in an informal settlement. I was so ashamed of my home that none of my friends knew where I stayed. I did not want them to know that I lived in an informal settlement. For me, that place was not to be called my home. I started missing dad, thinking that if they were still together then I would not be living in a place I did not feel comfortable calling home. Furthermore, the ‘should haves’ and the ‘would haves’ took over my mind. I started thinking that I should have chosen to live with dad because I thought life would be better if he was around. I had much anger and no one to vent it on except my mom.

Mom got sick few months later and passed on, and still, dad was nowhere to be found. On the other hand, my siblings and I had to live separately, in three different households. Then I was even a bigger emotional mess. I figured why not drown all my sorrow on anything I could possibly find- bad company and bad habits; alcohol and staying out all night long. At that point in time, ‘bad’ was ‘good’. My grades fell tremendously and just when I was about to drop out of school, I was introduced to a program called Bridging for Life by my teacher who knew me from grade eight.

At first, attending the program was not something I really wanted. I thought, why stay in school after school to attend something that was not part of my academics. Little did I know that the program would help me out of the major hole I had dug myself into. I decide to attend once in two weeks. My teacher found out about this and promised to punish me if I were to be absent. She knew somehow that attending the program was going to influence me positively. I then started attending every Wednesday not because I was interested, but because I wanted to sign that register. That way, I would not be in trouble with my teacher.

I continued with my bad habits and as a result, I lost respect from my school mates, teachers and my family. I did not care about losing people who tried to care.

One Wednesday during the program we were asked to voluntarily share our life stories. A facilitator shared hers and one of my mates shared his. Their stories made me realize that I was not the only one who was going through the toughest time of life. On this day, we were taught how to deal with problems like the one I was facing. At that point, I realized that my life was on a downhill slant and I had to do something about it. We thereafter listened to a tape that changed my life. I can still recall the exact words of the tape as if I listened to it yesterday. The words that touched me were the following; “if you associate with eagles you will learn how to fly to great heights. The less you associate with some people the move your life will improve. It is not where you from but where you are going”.

I started loving and enjoying attending the program. It was the only place I could be myself and not be judged. I learnt to communicate my feelings, to have a good self-esteem, to choose friends wisely, and to deal with problems of life. I got emotional support and it was seen to it that my siblings and I lived in one household. Everything fell into place. I changed friends, changed my bad habits, studied and passed my grade eleven with excellent grades.

Since Bridging for Life was a two year program, I continued attending it in grade twelve. I was one of the motivated bridging for life learners. I was encouraged to study and learnt to work with other people. I also learnt to forgive. Forgiveness was not part of the topics we learnt about in the program but I leant it through stories we shared with each other, and through working with other people. I forgave dad, for everything. I passed grade twelve and with the help of my facilitators and everything I learnt from the program, I was finally out of the hole I had dug myself into.

Still no word from dad, today I am a second year Education student at Witwatersrand University. I am doing well and I am enjoying my studies. After all, I am doing what I truly love; Teaching. I thank Valued Citizens Initiative for Bridging for life program and all other programs. My advice to all who are going through the toughest time of life; Difficulties do not come to destroy you but to help you realize your hidden potential. Let difficulties know you are difficult to defeat."

Chico Mawayi - Valued Citizens Learner from Bridging for Life programme 2010 – 2011 SG Mafaesa High School – Kagiso

"When Valued Citizens Initiative came to my school S.G Mafaesa, I was still a seed, that needed to be taken care of before it start to germinate, I was really inspired by Valued Citizens through my participation, interacting with my fellow learners and the information that they fed us with, through the activities that we were given, I personally developed the courage to open up, to feel free, to be positive towards life, furthermore I developed the courage to want to explore more, to become better in life.

Yes, I confess things were not easy back then, I am not saying that they are easy now, but through keeping faith in God, our divine being, listening to my parents, personally dedicated in what I was studying, I managed to hold on, despite the background I am from, the place am from, a wise man once said-"In life it does not matter where you come from, but where you going matter."

To my fellow brothers and sisters, I am not a genius, I do not even believe in the so called person called a genius in this world, but through God, hard work, inviting God in everything you do in life, you shall prosper, yes I confess I made a lot of life turns, some wrong and some right, I had my down fall in life but to mention few, my first year in 2012 at UJ was hectic, I was travelling from home to UJ using Putco bus in the morning as it left early 05h30 and returned around 17h30, since the Putco bus was cheaper and my parents could only afford it, due to the fact that they were paying for my fees. I had to adapt to the new environment, I failed a module, but I thank God for my precious, loving, caring parents they never gave up on me, I paid them back by passing my first year.

I applied for nsfas and I got approved, during my second year I was staying at school, things became a lot easier, because I had too much time to study unlike my first year, my time was consumed during travelling. I maintained my performance, furthermore I even increased my performance, I passed my second year, again I applied for nsfas and I got approved and did my third year, to tell you the truth last year it was rough for me, I had roommates who were bad, never cared about studying or about my studies.

I work hard until my personality split,I managed to pass my final year and in addition got a distinction on my major. This year I am going to further my studies in doing my Post Graduate Studies (PGCE), well life is not predictable as we plan it, not everything goes according to the way we plan, but we got to hold on tight to the ride, as I already said this year I am doing my Post Graduate studies, but am currently having financial problems. I have faith in God that if He can bring me through it, He shall take me through it.

Now I got my Psychology Degree, I made many folks, parents, my siblings, my life mentors from Valued Citizens, my fellow brothers and sisters proud when I told them that I am graduating on the 16th April 2015.

Being a Valued Citizen learner, as far as I can see, I've made it to the threshold, Lord knows I've waited for this a lifetime, I am inspired by the challenge that I find myself standing eye to eye with. I am praying for better days, people love de glory but scared of de story to be revealed to them, I say to all my brothers and sisters know that you can conquer all with a plan, forget about the negatives buried in the sand, never forget this is your life your path, your dream, this is your fight.

Victory you will see, you will be alright, get through the darkness, on the other end is pure light. Make a change and find a place in your heart you trust, never let your circumstances hold you back. You were born free, never got to feel trapped and on the pursuit to happiness you are going to feel pain, but I've learned that the struggle builds character.

My parents do not have much but through sacrifices that they did for me, they managed to provide me decent education, I paid them by being a good child, and obtained my Psychology Degree at UJ.

My best quote for my brothers and sisters out there is -
"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."- Michael Jordan

I am not trying to preach, but giving a testimony about my life and thanking God for Valued Citizens Initiative, their support as I believe it changes people's lives out there."

From an Educator

“I have been serving in the Free State Department for 19 years. Values in Education is categorized as curriculum support. We support educators, learners; we even go to an extra mile in involving parents and other stakeholders in making sure that we mould and assist the young generations to become Valued Citizens that the Constitution talks about” - Patrick Thukwayo, Assistant Director of Values in Education, Fezile Dabi, April 2014.

iNSPIRE programme

“When you undergo a life changing experience where you learn about yourself, you feel like you can change the world; you flourish with confidence and enthusiasm.” Rethabile Motale, beneficiary of the iNSPIRE programme from Thakamiswa Secondary School in Free State, April 2014.

iNSPIRE Programme

“The iNSPIRE Programme improved my life now I see myself as a leader and play that leadership role at school. I am able to accommodate someone different from me and know how to handle challenging situations as a leader.

Valued Citizens Initiative is different because they still stayed in touch with us, and that stood out for me, they really care and support us through the years. If it wasn’t for the iNSPIRE camp, I would not have discovered the independent girl that I am.” Angela Myeza, beneficiary of the 2010 iNSPIRE programme from Dikana Secondary School in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal, interview March 2014.

Siyakhula Programme

“Our Siyakhula Programme has enabled me to stand up for myself and for what I believe in so I make wiser decisions. It has improved my self-esteem; I do not compare myself to anyone. I am now after four years, studying radiography at the University of Johannesburg." Tumi Sebola former Siykhula beneficiary from Zitikeni High School, Tembisa, April 2014.

iCHOOSE programme

“I obtained Matric and I want to compose the beat of my life not just survive. Valued Citizens Initiative taught me to take pride in who I am and what I do. At this time, I use every opportunity to learn to act on my desires. I have not given-up and wish Ms Carole Poddetti-Ngono that you could be my mentor and guide me further in directions that I have not been able to travel by myself just to show me the way... so I can build the bridge myself!” Ndumiso Yende beneficiary of iCHOOSE programme in 2010, words written May 2014.

Bridging for Life 2013

"I believe that Bridging for Life programme will have a huge impact in my life as I believe in this say that says "to be a one day leader starts by building a foundation." I regard Bridging for Life programme as a foundation of my career and future." Tumelo Lehong, Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School

"Bridging for Life Programme will assist me to focus on my dreams and goals in life, moreover build my qualities as a learner. My ultimate goal is to become a role model in my community and ensure that young people are inspired." Mmatumelo Innocent Mpete, Ikatisong Secondary School

"As a young girl being raised by single parent, I find the Bridging for Life programme relevant to me, because it will allow me the opportunity to voice out my ideas and concerns. Sometimes it is difficult to discuss my challenges with my mother or my friends so I see this programme as a solution to my needs as a girl child." Maloga Morema, Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School

"Bridging for Life will restore my hope and motivate me to focus more on improving my school work. This will assist me to achieve my goals in life, especially the one of becoming a doctor." Matsinye Katlego, Ikatisong Secondary School

Inspire Uthungulu District 2013 Learners

"The iNSPIRE Programme has made me realize how important I am as a girl, to believe in myself and through it all it taught me that working as a team make us achieve more."

"The journey has helped me to turn my weakness into strength e.g. standing in front of people. I have learnt that I should not allow my family background to define my future; I have the power of choice to be who I want to be in the future."

"The most important thing that the iNSPIRE Programme taught me is that love is not about sex, as a girl I have a right to say "NO" with confidence."

"The iNSPIRE Programme made me realize that I cannot change my past but I can look back and acknowledge my mistakes, learn from them and move on with my life."

"Through the journey I realised how important is honesty and how one can fit in a team without compromising my values. I have learnt to listen with my heart, trust myself in order to be able to gain the trust of the others."


"The iNSPIRE Journey gave me a better understanding of how to read my learners’ feelings and how to instil morals in them."

"The iNSPIRE Programme motivated and made me grows as an educator, now I have skills on how to handle and interact with my learners."

"My communication skills have improved a lot and will make it easier for my learners to understand me and in return understand them."

"The iNSPIRE Programme gave me the opportunity to meet new people, it taught me to accept myself first as a human being and others as well as their differences. I have learnt to accept things I cannot change in order to be happy in life, generally at home and work."

"The camp exposed me to various methods of exploring my feelings; struggles at work and home and it re-in forced my vision as an educator."
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My Identity Document deepening my sense of Belonging

iVALUE Identity programme in support of “Schools Rights and Lights Campaign”, in partnership with La Voix de l’Enfant and Engie Foundation, is already enabling 2069 learners above 16 from 12 public high schools to get their Identity Document and become active citizens in Gauteng.

Currently, many school children above the age of 16 in South Africa still lack access to their vital life documents such as birth certificates, and Identity Document. As a result, our children lose their sense of identity and face tremendous difficulties when wanting to exercise their rights such as enrolment in schools, writing Matric examinations, right to vote and enjoy social benefits such as being able to purchase a cell phone, search and apply for employment and lead their lives. At Olievenhoutbosch Secondary School, the principal is grateful as she was used to have a tremendous drop out of learners just because they did not have access to this vital right to an Identity Document and some felt at risk as foreigners.


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