“Young people have a lot of hope as they grow up and make plans for the future. However their surroundings can influence their motivation…the truth is reality can be demotivating at times.”
The CLEF (Community Leaders Education Fund) Bursary Programme was born out of the belief that for the cycle of poverty to be broken in rural African communities like Justicia, Admire’s home village, it was essential their youth accessed education opportunities beyond Secondary (High) School.
In 2018, with the support of a donor-sponsored CLEF bursary, Admire Mkansi graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from Rhodes University, Grahamstown – a notable achievement in anyone’s book, but even more so for a young woman from a small, isolated community bordering the Sabi Sands and Kruger National Park reserves.
“I always believed that I have the potential to do and be whatever I wanted…all I needed was the opportunity, and CLEF came through to save my future.”
Inspired by her mother’s indomitable spirit, supported by the guiding mentorship of her teachers and encouraged by her family, Admire developed the life-shaping quality of self-belief.
“Growing up in a village was the life I knew. University exposed me to city life. Everything was new to me and most of the time I felt alone. CLEF understood that I needed more than just money to make it through university. ”
The challenges of moving to a new environment where you are far away from everything and everyone you have ever known, can be overwhelming. The ongoing psycho-social support provided by CLEF is an invaluable counter to these feelings of isolation that are a very real part of each CLEF student’s journey.
What was it that kept Admire motivated in the face of these challenges?
“I am the first child, and in the African culture, the oldest child has to become ‘deputy’ parent. I always knew my parents had dreams, but they had to make sure that we, as their children, were cared for. I had to do it for my brother and my sister. I had to do it for my parents.”
“During my year of doing community service I learnt that it’s important to give back to the community – blessed to be a blessing – the little you can do makes a difference.”
One of the reasons Admire chose Matikwana Hospital for her Government community service was that it served the Sabi Sands surrounding areas, including her village. For her, this was a golden opportunity to give back to her community, and to be a motivation to those aspiring young people still at school, who knew her as “Our sister, Admire – who grew up with us in the dust…”
When asked what advice Admire would give to those Grade 12 students in rural communities about to leave school, she didn’t hesitate:
“Whatever dreams they have – they must just believe in themselves – that’s the greatest gift they can give to themselves – it’s possible – one day they will make it.”