Enriching young lives

This past decade and a half has seen great strides being made in youth empowerment by the Mondesa Youth Opportunities (MYO) Trust.

27 August 2019 | Education

Iréne-Mari van der Walt

It is no secret that our STEM-based school curriculum leaves little room for the arts to flourish. Since 2004, the Mondesa Youth Opportunities (MYO) Trust aimed to help children from the impoverished community of Mondesa achieve greatness.

MYO is a non-profit trust that offers an afternoon school to supplement school education and teach additional skills, at no financial charge. They insist that the only payment they require is commitment, a positive attitude and the hard work of students.

In order to make this possible, MYO is completely dependent on donations from the public.

The incentive is to assist learners from underprivileged schools attain academic success. This means that a large portion of the programme focuses on English, maths and reading, but music, computer skills and life skills are also offered, in an attempt to create a ‘whole child’.

Neels Strijdom, the manager at MYO, believes that MYO students are promising individuals who struggle to thrive in their school environments.

“I do not want to speak ill of schools; they really are doing the best they can in their situation, but the classes are just too big to allow these kids to be noticed,” he said.

“This is a tough challenge for schools, but we do not blame them, we just want to help these kids to flourish.”

Strijdom said it is hard to tell which classes the kids enjoy the most.

“The kids really do enjoy music, and obviously the sport, but I think reading is the big one,” he said. Strijdom believes that reading is MYO’s strength.

“I think it’s because of the reading culture we are trying to create.”

He said reading not only assists learners with vocabulary, comprehension and grammar, but is a big help in broadening the minds of the learners.

Although the programme only offers classes to scholars from grades 4 to 8, alumni still receive support from the initiative.

Currently, MYO caters for about 120 students.

“We have about 25 available places per grade,” Strijdom said.

Andris Simeon, a MYO alumnus, recently received a cum laude distinction for his honours degree in electrical engineering.

Simeon completed his first three years of study with an Areva bursary, and in his final year, he received funding from Dundee Precious Metals, where he is now employed.

Additionally, Dr Aina Ihambo qualified as a medical practitioner in Russia in June this year. Aina was an MYO student from 2009 and completed her high school education at Namib High School in Swakopmund.

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