Bishop’s heart is to uplift poor

From helping more than 400 graduates receive tertiary funding to helping with internship placements and free premarital education, Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali is doing his bit to reduce the unemployment rate.

Scores of young people across the Eastern Cape can attest that Ntlali has had a hand in where they are currently in their careers.

Every Wednesday the people of Grahamstown, where he is based, are welcomed to his office to receive counselling or advice on anything that may be bothering them.

Through those sessions, he realised how many people were struggling with unemployment and funding for tertiary education.

Ntlali does this work through the Grahamstown Diocese Development Trust, which has a number of programmes.

“Our Christianity is carrying one another’s load. We also take care of widows in our church.

“Even premarital counselling is available for everyone.”

The bishop, who is also a member of the Rotary Club, negotiates with employers to host the graduates for the required time to complete their qualifications.

At times, funds for the recipients were delayed, which Ntlali said was a heartbreaking challenge they faced.

“Having to explain to the students that the money did not come in at the expected date hurts me because that is when you see the tears, but they are very understanding,” he said.

Among those who can attest to the bishop’s help is Siphokazi Luwaqa, the partner of Nomvete Sayo and Luwaqa Incorporate, who says the assistance she received from the Grahamstown Diocese Development Trust was a catalyst to her reaching her dreams much earlier.

“Before that I had financial problems but the stipend I received lightened the load because I could cover my needs such as transport and rent because I am not from Butterworth.

“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am if they hadn’t granted me the opportunity. I am so grateful,” she said.

Ntlali said: “I can’t explain my gift but what I can say is I can’t stand to see people being in poverty, whether they are children or adults.

“I do what I do because I love it and I believe it is a fulfilment of the calling. The heart of Jesus is there in the poverty,” he said.

Amanda Sityana, 38, a contract worker at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane, said: “Because I could not get employment related to what I studied , I worked at Nick’s Food for two years. That call I received in 2016 changed my life.

“I thank God for them. I am here because of them. It is not easy to get employment at my age but here I am through them and God,” said Sityana.

The archdeacon to the bishop, Bubele Mfenyana, said: “He has done many great things. He is strong on development and he brings his vision to help the community.”

Those in need of assistance do not have to be members of the Anglican Church.

Ntlali said: “When they receive help it humbles me. I am thankful to God who entered the government before I did because without them we wouldn’t have so many successes. They are a great help to these projects. I cannot do it alone.”

The bishop and his team are also among the first responders when there is a fire at someone’s home. — lisekhom@dispatch.co.za

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