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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

Miss Deaf SA inspires UFS teachers with her life story
2009-11-26

Pictured from the left, are: K. Botshelo, Vickey Fourie (Miss Deaf SA) and A. Morake.

Vicki Fourie, Miss Deaf SA 2009 and Miss Deaf HESC, recently visited the University of the Free State to motivate aspiring Foundation Phase teachers by sharing her life story with them.

When Vicki was two years old, her parents found out that she couldn’t speak. Two possible explanations were that she had had an ear infection or speech problems. They took her to a specialist and after a brain scan they found out that Vicki had 97% hearing loss in both ears.

Hearing aids were required and Vicki’s father, Pastor Gerhard Fourie from the Christian Revival Church (CRC) enrolled her in a kindergarten school for deaf children, Carel Du Toit in Cape Town.

However, even though Carel Du Toit’s slogan is ‘Where Deaf Children Learn to Speak’, it was because of her mother’s efforts that Vicki is able to communicate effectively with hearing people today.

Bonita Fourie would sit with her child every single day and teach her how to pronounce words phonetically and how to read lips. It is because of that that Vicki is not dependent on sign language at all.

When she was seven years old, her parents enrolled her in an English A.C.E. school. Even though Vicki’s home language is Afrikaans, her parents decided to go against the norm by placing her in an English school (most deaf/hard of hearing people cannot learn a second language). Today Vicki is fluent in both languages.

“I used to think that my hearing aids are just a normal thing you put on, like using glasses for reading,” she said. “I still think that way. People always come up to me and say, ‘It’s amazing how easily you adapt to hearing people. You have no stumbling blocks or holdbacks.’

“To me it’s interesting because my reaction is always this: ‘God gave me this situation, and I have made the best of it. I’ve overcome it, and therefore I can go forward in life’. We were born not to survive, but to thrive. I detest the attitude of, ‘I’m a victim, so the world owes me something’. The world owes nobody anything! We can be victorious over our own circumstances. It is possible. My name’s meaning is testifies to this: “Vicki” comes from the word “Victory”. I was meant to be victorious, and not a victim.”

Vicki, who is now 20, has achieved so much in life. She did ballet, hip-hop, modern dancing, drama (she even went to America for her dramatic monologue and poetry recitation), and she has published over 70 magazine articles, nationally and internationally. Her dreams are to write books one day, become a TV presenter, and motivate and inspire people all over South Africa through public speaking.

When one hears this story, one cannot help but be surprised by her success. It makes you realize that anything is possible when you see the potential in a child, and then do everything in your power to develop it and draw it out. When you believe in the child that you are educating, that child will sense it and blossom like a flower.

“Courage isn’t a gift, it is a decision,” Vicki said. “There will always be things that try to hold you back. The key to working with any child is to be patient, patient, and patient! Teachers play a huge role in equipping children for the future. It is a big responsibility, but it can be done.”
 

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