Real-life experience and a passion for community upliftment have seen Mooi ‘Mazo’ Mthethwa, from Hillcrest, making a positive impact on hundreds of young lives with the assistance of Project Dignity.
A motivational speaker with Nation Changers – an outreach extension of City Hill Church in Hillcrest – Mooi has been working actively in the Upper Highway area providing young women with much-needed reusable sanitary pads.
Commenting on her work, Mooi said her personal life history coming from an impoverished home gives her a basis for understanding the desperation felt by many South African youngsters.
Growing up in the township of KwaMashu and then uMlazi informal settlement, following riots, Mooi spent her high school afternoons selling various trade items on the roadside in an effort to raise funds for her family.
“We would all share the income we received,” explained the enthusiastic philanthropist. “My mom worked as a hawker, selling clothes and meats, and was often away for months at a time. During these months there weren’t always enough funds for me to buy sanitary pads and I had to use cloth or even toilet paper.”
Her enduring spirit pushed her to continue working, finding a job as a cleaner for one of her lecturers which assisted with funding her tertiary studies. She also sought help from benefactors who saw her potential and Mooi succeeded in obtaining a Diploma in Education through Adams Mission. She eventually went on to earn herself a Bachelor’s Degree as well as several Diploma’s in Life Skills including a Diploma in Theology.
“I went to the Department of Education where there were lots of people looking for jobs,” she recalled. “We were asked who could teach Guidance from Standard 6 (Grade 8) to matric and, through confidence, I managed to get the job at Shumaela High School.”
Mooi continued on her upward trajectory, eventually earning the position of Head of Department through her determination and the constantly impressive performance of her matric pupils’ year after year.
It was only four years ago that Mooi was introduced to City Hill Church through her daughter after resigning from teaching following an illness. She quickly got involved in the organisation’s non-profit, Nation Changers, which has some 360 volunteers involved in 51 ongoing projects, primarily in the Upper Highway area.
It was at a talk by Sue Barnes of Subz Pants and Pads that Mooi committed herself to working with the organisation’s non-profit extension, Project Dignity.
The NGO works with sponsors to donate packs of eco-friendly sanitary pads and accompanying panties to young girls in disadvantaged areas.
Barnes established the organisation to meet the needs of many disadvantaged families who, like Mooi in her youth, cannot afford cosmetic items such as sanitary pads. The knock-on effect is that young learners abstain from school for several weeks throughout the school year, missing out on crucial education time that could cost them a future.
Barnes designed the hygienic, washable sanitary pad which clips onto a cotton panty, which can be reused for up to five years.
“When I heard Sue talk, it resonated with something inside of me,” explained Mooi. “I had been in that situation and I really felt it was my passion to do something for these children.”
Through Nation Changers, Mooi assists in identifying schools in the area where young women can benefit from the Subz packs’ donations. She then helps with the sourcing of the necessary funding for the packs and attends the school activations with the Project Dignity team where she gives motivational talks to the children.
Commenting on Mooi’s involvement in the project, Barnes said: “Mooi is a valuable volunteer partner of the Subz/Project Dignity and City Hill Nation Changer project. She attends activations with Subz and offers an extremely uplifting dialogue with the girls focusing on her life story. Her charming personality always leaves the girls energised.”
“Mooi also assists with translation of the education programme and the question and answer session which is always well received. Subz benefits tremendously from having Mooi’s assistance with the Nation Changer programme.”
Nation Changers has secured funding for the next activation at Gwadu Zenex Senior Primary School in Embo on 2 November. However, there is always a dire need for funding to meet the ever-increasing list of schools desperately seeking donations of reusable pads and panties for its pupils.
Anyone wanting to get involved can visit their website.