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A high school student started tutoring youth in his community, 6 years later he is still changing lives

tutoring youth

Jeofrey Hlongo started a tutoring youth programme when he was 17, he continued the project even when he was kicked out during Matric. 6 years later and he is still changing lives.

 

Jeofrey, an incredible young South African started a foundation in Diepsloot and for the last 6 years has been faithfully giving back to his community… wanting nothing in return.

” My name is Jeofrey, I’m 23 years old. I grew up in Diepsloot. My older brothers were part of the neighbourhood gangs. When I started highschool, I could see that becoming my future as well.”

“I was angry, disillusioned, and felt unloved. My parents, especially my dad was absent and unsupportive.

Jeofrey did well at school, and writing poetry and singing was one way that helped him deal with his frustrations.

In 2011 when he was in grade 11, he started tutoring some neighborhood children. It was this that suddenly sparked something in him. The kids flourished, and for the first time in his life, a gaping hole in his own life was filled…

“I was NEEDED. I realized that there was a yearning amongst youngsters to feel like they belonged…like they were part of something bigger than themselves. I started up a singing group, “Angel Voices.”

“It really took off big time..more and more kids wanted to join…but some of them couldn’t sing! I asked them what they could do…some could draw – some could act….but what we all needed and wanted…deep down….was community. The reason so many township kids are drawn into gangs is for this very reason – they are desperate for community.”

That same year he launched the LYDA foundation which stands for Live Your Dream Africa.

The idea behind LYDA is that everyone has a dream, and everyone should be allowed to follow their dream. Diepsloot West High School allowed Jeofrey to use their premises on a Saturday and with a few volunteers they started to do maths and science tutoring, Bible studies, music, and theatre.

The following year – 2012- was my matric year, and the relationship with my dad was at an all time low. It got so bad that he kicked me out of the house while I was writing exams. This only motivated me more though. The kids that were coming every Saturday were just like me…they came from broken homes…and on a Saturday they were in a place where they were safe – Safe from gangsterism and drugs, safe away from abusive family – safe with a new family that we were all becoming.

Jeofrey shares all this over a cup of tea as the rain gently falls outside.

“We’ve been going for 6 years now. Every Saturday come rain and shine…we don’t have a lot of volunteers…some of the volunteers are unemployed kids that have just matriculated…they help with the tutoring..and it actually helps to keep them busy and off the streets and away from gangs while they are putting their CVs out there looking for work. LYDA has grown to have quite a few arms

One can only be inspired by all this young man has dreamt up…

Besides the tutoring they have created the Diepsloot Youth Choir, Diepsloot Art School, Diepsloot Music School, Lyda Book Donation, Men and Women of Tomorrow, Light Africa, and Be the Voice – where they encourage kids to tell their stories.

“For the last few years I’ve been studying at UJ – Public Relations and Communications Management, and I’m graduating in a few months.”

“A highlight for me was winning the lead SA hero of the month, at the end of last year.”

LYDA is also now a registered foundation and has a BEE certificate. The fact that this foundation was started by a 17 year old… who has kept it running for 6 years with a handful of volunteers is an incredible South African story!

Jeofrey can still use all the help he can get and urges everyone to help him change even more lives… to get involved click here.

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I Have A Name is a space where an anonymous photographer (we’ll call her J) is taking photos of everyday South Africans to showcase their incredible stories.

How do we bridge the great South African divides? Black vs white, young vs old, rich vs poor, men vs women? The divides that keep us from making eye contact with the beggar standing on the street corner, or the stranger in the lift.

CS Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

Come with me on a journey…the stories and names behind the faces of everyday South Africans living their life in your neighbourhood, on your streets.

I think you will discover that we have a lot in common.


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