The Power of Ubuntu: Transforming Poverty in South Africa
Ubuntu is a Zulu term that translates into ‘I am because you are, I am because we are.’ This transcendent phrase spotlights the importance of interdependence, empathy, reciprocity, solidarity and kindness within a community. Ubuntu Pathways, in seeking to use education to improve the lives of young people, recognizes the power of Ubuntu. It adopts the Ubuntu philosophy to bring about impactful change in South Africa, particularly in Gqeberha, previously known as Port Elizabeth.
Ubuntu Pathways is a nonprofit organization that provides social support and resources for health and education to orphaned children in Gqeberha. In doing this, it creates unique opportunities for disenfranchised individuals to thrive and have a better future.
In 1999, Jacob Lief and Malizole ‘Banks’ Gwaxula founded Ubuntu Pathways (previously known as Ubuntu Education Fund) to directly tackle the various issues that poor households endure. This includes the lack of job opportunities, poor access to health care, low income and inadequate school resources for children.
The organization is inspired by the guiding principles and power of Ubuntu, recognizing that every child is experiencing unique struggles. Since the organization’s establishment, it has flourished significantly, focusing primarily on long-term impacts.
‘Cradle to Career’ Model
Ubuntu Pathways launched its five-year program, ‘Cradle to Career’, to provide long-term personalized support to impoverished families. This integrated approach acknowledges that there is a need to do more to assist vulnerable South African people. It dedicates time and facilities to ensure children are supported from birth to pre-school and up to the university level, providing families with financial support throughout. The initiative also has mentors who focus on helping youths achieve their life-long ambitions. These mentors provide interview and resume tips to equip their mentees for future employment. Cradle to Career also offers holiday camps and job training courses.
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ubuntu Pathways’ Cradle to Career model provided 30,000 people with food monthly, administered 40,000 COVID vaccines, helped 400 youths gain employment, supported students academically, psychologically and socially while also ensuring that all mothers with HIV birthed HIV-free infants. In 2021, the organization also bought a piece of land for building the Ubuntu High School. This idea was inspired by its Cradle to Career model.
Monitoring Success Rates
Ubuntu Pathways considers the number of university graduates when measuring the impact and success rates of its efforts. It collaborated with McKinsey & Company to create an evaluative model which provides a deep insight into assessing the university graduate’s progress in terms of having job security a good financial standing.
Ubuntu Pathways is known for providing children with a safe and supportive educational environment while assisting the most vulnerable members. Despite facing challenges like COVID-19, the organization continued serving and supporting the less privileged. This aligns with its reputation as an organization that believes in the power of Ubuntu while maintaining its commitment to improving the lives of South African children through education.
– Dami Kalejaiye