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Hope is a never-ending story

By Igno van Niekerk

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Keabetswe Malebo was the recipient of the
scholarship by Abbe Levin. 
Photo: Igno van Niekerk. 


Great stories are often the result of unexpected connections made across time and space. Upon looking back and connecting dots, one is often surprised at how seemingly random events lead to happy endings, which in themselves become beginnings for new stories.

Leaving a legacy

When Ida Manana Siyila left South Africa in the first half of the twentieth century, no one would have known how her legacy would influence a young student at the UFS many years later. While working for the same American family for more than 30 years, she never stopped learning and working to improve herself. Ida, proud of her dual citizenship, never lost contact with her friends and family in Bloemfontein, wishing to return to Bloemfontein in her old age. Her American family made sure that this wish was fulfilled.

For Keabetswe Malebo, the first six months as a student were tough. An energetic young lady with joy in her voice and a passion for learning and making a difference in her community, Keabetswe had been squatting with a friend while studying at the UFS. The friend was running out of money; there was no way Keabetswe could pay her debt, and her friend could not afford the rent. No rent, no accommodation. No accommodation, no further studies.

Changing a life

Abbe Levin was sincerely grateful for what Ida Siyila had done for her family. In 2017, Abbe made a donation to the UFS requesting that it be used as a scholarship for a disadvantaged student in Ida’s name.

When Keabetswe read about the scholarship, she applied. “I felt it was for me, I was so excited and afraid.” Keabetswe’ s belief, commitment, and hard work were rewarded when she was granted the scholarship. “I got the money just in time to buy a laptop, a printer, and a microwave … and of course to pay the rent I owed my friend.”

Since then, Keabetswe has met Abbe Levin online, and they have become friends, communicating, sharing family pictures and stories, ever grateful for the never-ending story of Ida Manana Siyila...

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