Everything started with Songo Fipaza’s dream to uplift Kayamandi, the community that he has lived in for numerous years of his life and where he has been working hard to bring about change for his community.
Social entrepreneur Songo Fipaza was born and raised in Kayamandi, a much-loved township community on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.
The 40-year-old is determined to improve the livelihoods of children in Kayamandi and founded his non-profit organisation songo.info.
As a part of his effort to bring about change, Fipaza wants to build a safe community pool that will teach children to swim, keep them off the streets and expose them to other athletic opportunities.
Last year, Fipaza himself took a dive and learnt how to swim after challenging himself to complete the Iron Man championship.
This inspiring man has big plans and needs financial sponsorship to move the municipal development forward.
News24 reported about Fipaza’s multi-million rand plan to creating Olympic swimmers in the Stellenbosch township.
The festive and vibrant community of Kayamandi, meaning “Sweet Home”, accommodates over 33 000 people who live in various structures from formal houses to shack dwellings. Approximately 70% of the community live in informal settlements without access to services such as water and toilet facilities. Unemployment is high and total income per family is significantly low.
As a result social issues run rampant, from malnutrition and hygiene, to the challenges around keeping children safe from the perils of poverty and unemployment including alcohol and drug abuse.
Fipaza started songs.info in 2008 after taking part in the ABSA Cape Epic.
“In the township, no one knew about such a sport. It was an amazing experience, and I thought about how much the kids here in my home town would love it. So I decided to try my best to bring it here.”
Through tireless fund-raising and sponsorship chasing, they were rewarded with a donation of six bikes and enough to build a small track on a vacant patch of land next to a vandalised council building, notorious as a hangout for criminals and drug addicts.
“The municipality in 2013 eventually decided to demolish what was left of the structure, but I begged them to rather hand it over for songo.info’s use, considering that right next door to it the children were doing something constructive. They agreed, and our clubhouse was born.”
Restoring the building cost R200 000, but building contractors and material sponsors ensured that the job did not cripple the organisation financially.
Three years later, the clubhouse boasts a mini gym, couches for “chilling”, a computer lab for research while doing homework as well as a library.
Four months ago Fipaza decided that his next big project was to build a pool in his community through the Kayamandi Sports Development initiative.
His recent interest in triathlons has motivated him to end the long-held perception that black people cannot swim.
Fipaza said, “A lot of the kids they go to the dams they are not monitored, it’s not safe for them… true we cannot swim because we don’t have those opportunities like a swimming pool, but if we had like swimming pools in our communities lot of kids will be able to swim.”
In April he took part in the London Marathon, and through crowdfunding managed to raise R60 000 toward his cause. But he still has a long way to go – he has estimated that the fully functional indoor pool he envisions should cost about R15m.
It is Songo’s dream to provide his children with the possibility to go out and achieve their dreams, no matter how big or small, providing opportunities that have not been available to his community.
His goals are significant: to look after and protect our children; and to provide them with opportunities as all children should have with the belief that anything is possible.
To help with Fipaza’s cause, click here to donate.