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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

Johann swims his way to Olympics
2016-05-18


Johann van Heerden from the University of the Free State has qualified for the Paralympic Games in the swimming pool, and is now waiting to hear if he will be included in the South African team. Photo: Nadya van Heerden.

In the past couple of months, Johann van Heerden has been swimming his way to the Paralympic Games, and is still preparing as if he will be going to Rio de Janeiro.

The Kovsie swimmer, who will know whether he has been included in the Paralympic team in July 2016, feels his training is progressing well. The Olympics will be held in Brazil from 7 to 18 September 2016. If all goes well, this could be the first of several Olympics for the 20-year-old second-year Education student from the University of the Free State (UFS).

Dream year for Education student

Van Heerden (cerebral palsy), whose hero is the former Paralympic superstar Natalie du Toit, has had huge successes in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics. Among others, he was named the best senior swimmer at the Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled in Bloemfontein in March 2016. At the South African Senior Championships in Durban in April 2016, he qualified for the Olympics in the 100 m breast-stroke with an A-qualifying time, and in the 50 m and 100 m freestyle with B-qualifying times.

Only three male swimmers to Olympics

However, he has to wait until the announcement of the South African Paralympic team, since only three male and three female swimmers will be selected. He will not be competing in another major event before the Olympics. “My short-term goal is to compete in this year’s Games, and, in the long term, I would like to reach even greater heights at the 2020 Games,” he said. Du Toit is an inspiration to him because “she was hard-working, and she had a lot of drive”.

Other students from CUADS also excel

At the above-mentioned National Championships, Van Heerden won a total of five gold medals (200 m medley, 100 m breaststroke, 50 m freestyle, 50 m breaststroke, and 200 m breaststroke) and one silver medal (100 m freestyle). Other students from the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support at the UFS also excelled.

Dineo Mokhosoa (cerebral palsy) won three gold medals (long jump, shot-put, and discus), while the athlete Louzanne Coetzee (blind) shattered the world record in the 5 000 m, as well as the Africa record in the 1 500 m. Juanré Jenkinson (cerebral palsy) won two silver medals (discus and shot-put) while Danie Breitenbach (blind) won two gold medals (800 m and 1500 m).

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