Patrick Mashanda

It’s not good enough just to blame government for society’s ills, Patrick Mashanda believes. Every South African citizen has the responsibility to take action to make the country a better place. Mashanda is doing just that by giving struggling township teenagers the support they need to pass matric, get into university, and go on to become educated and productive citizens. As a district co-ordinator in Gauteng and the North West for non-governmental organisation IkamvaYouth, he facilitates the afterschool tutoring and career guidance of high school pupils. It’s a worthy cause, given that only about 16% of young South Africans participate in higher education. Mashanda knows all about hardship. He grew up in a rural village in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe as one of 26 children of a polygamous father and a mother who could not write her name. Years of poverty and intermittent schooling only strengthened Mashanda’s resolve to get an education and free himself from his circumstances. An uncle paid for his high school education and Mashanda eventually became the only one of his siblings to get a university degree. But life in Zimbabwe in the mid-2000s was anything but stable, so he, like thousands of others, fled to South Africa, where he worked as a petrol attendant for two years. He never took his eye off the social justice prize, though, so, in various research jobs and working for non-governmental organisations, he founded the Hope Warriors Children’s Charity, which helps vulnerable children in the Soshanguve community with after-school support, uniforms, stationery and a feeding programme. He joined IkamvaYouth in 2012 and his dedication to the education dream couldn’t have been reflected more clearly than in the 100% final exam pass rate of the matrics on last year’s IkamvaYouth programme. Education is your passport out of poverty, Mashanda says. Get it. — Victoria John