Making sure matriculants have that one magical evening
After offering to assist her parents with the costs for her younger sister's matric farewell dance, it dawned on Vuyo Ngaka that many youngsters never got to experience a magical night because of budgetary constraints.
“I realised that if we are working yet couldn't afford some of the things for my sister's farewell without a bit of help, how much more do parents struggle when they don't have a stable income,” said Ngaka, 32.
“Everyone deserves to have a lovely matric dance so I set off to identify at least one school near East London where a matric dance was a popular annual tradition, but where many students were unable to attend because of the costs involved.”
In 2017, the Keiskammahoek-born Ngaka found a school in need, Sophakamisana High School in Scenery Park. She initially donated 10 dresses, which she made herself, and 25 pairs of shoes.
“I sew as a hobby and I also had a clothing line called Elegant Souls back then, but I decided to call on all my friends to donate dresses, shoes and handbags to help me out too.
“By the time of the school's matric dance I had collected 240 pairs of shoes, 50 dresses and 25 clutch bags for the school so that needy learners could fit and use the items they needed.
“A friend and I went to apply makeup to girls in need so that we could minimise those costs as well,” she said.
Since then, Ngaka has collected and donated matric farewell garments, shoes and accessories to the school each year.
Now she hopes to collect suits to assist the male pupils in need this year.
But Ngaka's good deeds do not end there.
With a Master's in public administration from Nelson Mandela University, Ngaka works as a district manager in the office of the premier.
And while she sees it as just doing her job, she never shies away from going the extra mile.
“I am responsible for monitoring service delivery issues in the Chris Hani district. I help people who have been waiting for their RDP houses or don't know who to contact for issues relating to their benefits and I try to ensure that things get gone as quickly as possible,” said Ngaka, who also facilitates the donation of wheelchairs to underprivileged disabled people.
“In the past I have also assisted elderly disabled individuals to receive RDP homes,” Ngaka said.
As part of her job, Ngaka is also involved in back-to-school-campaigns where she visits schools in and around the district to encourage and establish academic support programmes for high school pupils.
“I address them on career opportunities available and redirect them to careers that have opportunities.”
Wandile Kakaza, principal of Gobinamba Senior secondary School in Tsomo, said Ngaka's visits to the school had impacted the students positively.
“Her talks motivated the students so much and we can see it in their improved results. We need more people with her character in SA. She is caring and selfless,” said Kakaza.
Ngaka said if everyone played their part, SA would be a better place.
“I’m very passionate about helping people, especially when it comes to poverty. I have tasted poverty so I know how it feels. I always wanted to do something for my community just to provide help and bring light.”
“Unfortunately the direction I wanted to take as a career was not going to work for my community or run an NPO, but I try to do what I can to help in any way.
“If we can all extend a helping hand whenever we can, we can all build the SA we want,” she said.