Teen gives back to the community

“I want to use the little that I have to help other people who really need help,” says 28 year-old Mandisa Vilakazi from Ridge Park.

Vilakazi, who is currently a first-year student at Durban University of Technology, has started her own non-profit organisation that is aimed at helping members of the community who are in need and also to empower young people.

This organisation, called Mandisa Vilakazi Foundation, was officially registered last month.

Speaking to Echo about her organisation, Vilakazi said it has always been her dream as a young girl to help other people. She said visiting her grandmother during her school holidays inspired her to want to help other people.

“Since I was five-years-old, every time I visited my grandmother in Sweetwaters, I would see people who are really suffering who do not even know what are they going to eat that day and that broke my heart. I told myself that one day when I grow up I want to give back to the community who needs help,” she said.

She said she never thought she will start this organisation at such a young age but the story that her mother told her inspired her to want to start now.

“My mother is a teacher so she told me that she asked the pupils at [her] school to write about themselves. The stories that she told me broke my heart; hearing that so many families go through difficulties just to put food on the table.

“I told my mother that I want to open and register my non-profit organisation that will focus on helping needy people and she agreed and supported me. I want to at least help one family or an individual every month because I do not have sponsors for now,” she said.

Vilakazi recently donated groceries to a family in Sweetwaters whose house was gutted by fire and they were left with nothing but the clothes that they were wearing.

“After I registered my organisation I asked my brother who lives in Sweetwaters if he knows of a family that really needs help. He told me about Khanyile family that lost every thing in the fire. I went and spoke to the family and I bought them groceries. Fortunately enough when I went there, there were already people who were building an RDP house,” she said.

Vilakazi said she used her allowance that she gets at home to help and plans to continue using it.

“I have also started changing my lifestyle to cut costs so that I can use my allowance money to help people in need. I no longer go out often, instead I have started buying groceries for myself to cook at home.

“More young people like us need to learn that the money that we spend when we are going out we [can] actually use it on people who really need it,” she said.

Vilakazi said she is planning something for one of the orphanages next month in celebration of her birthday.