Celebrating Nelson Mandela Day with Ahisanang Sechaba – A Nonprofit Uplifting the Youth with Soccer Activities
Nelson Mandela is a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist. He is many things to many folks: a leader, a statesman, and more. He was an unapologetic hero who stood up for what he believed in regardless of the consequences. He was an example of human resilience during a trying period of history when the world seemed to be crumbling around him. To honor this mand and his legendary work, United Nations declared 18th July, his birthday, as Nelson Mandela International Day. The day is celebrated worldwide with acts of kindness to help uplift communities and individuals.
We had a conversation with Sonti Mofokeng, Chairperson & Founder, and the team of Ahisanang Sechaba. Founded as a community-based organization, it focuses on soccer activities and youth training to educate and develop their skills. In addition to providing after-school activities, the organization aims to deter youth from drugs, crime, and teenage pregnancy.
Could you explain the workings of your organization to us?
Ahisanang Sechaba: We first started with the objective of removing children from the streets. We noticed that children in our community spent most of their time on the streets without much supervision or doing anything productive. And this often leads to drug and alcohol abuse. So we got them together and had a conversation with them. Initially, we wanted to engage them in chess. But to our surprise, only three of them were interested in chess. The rest of them wanted to play soccer. And that is when our organization was born.
Since then, we have had a steady rise. We have played several tournaments and won many of them as well. We aim to equip children with different life skills through soccer and games. We have also had partnerships with other organizations and hosted foreign exchange students. We have had students from countries like France, China, Uganda, Nigeria, and Italy. These foreign exchange student programs typically last six weeks. And it’s an intense knowledge and skills exchange session.
How has your journey been so far?
Ahisanang Sechaba: We have faced several challenges so far. But at the same time, we have also managed to achieve a lot. And among all of our achievements, the biggest is that we have created a healthy community.
We have forged partnerships with people and organizations. They step in and ask what our requirements are. They then help us with whatever they can. Last month, we distributed spectacles. With these small acts, we are trying to build a better community.
How does your organization helps with Nelson Mandela International Day?
Ahisanang Sechaba: We celebrate this day by organizing a cleaning campaign. We invite the community to help us with it. We also organize a soccer tournament in celebration of Nelson Mandela Day.
And while celebrating this great man and his extraordinary life, we also try to imbibe in people his qualities which include forgiveness and love for peace.
What motivates you to do the work you do?
Ahisanang Sechaba: Creating better lives for our children is what motivates us. And we are trying to do it with education and sports. We want our children to explore the world and see the light outside. Many of the children we work with do not have the necessary means to continue their education which eventually stops them from having a good life. Helping them out will not only improve their lives but will also help uplift the community.
In what ways can people help your organization?
Ahisanang Sechaba: We appreciate any kind of support. For example, we often have difficulties with transport while attending tournaments. So if anyone can help us with arranging it, they are most welcome. Funds are an excellent way to help too. And when we say funds, we mean direct donations and help raise funds.