About our Volunteers Inspiration from our past volunteers


Mbuyi Yanta (28)

Mbuyi Yanta

I am working as a facilitator and trainer at Next Step Coaching.

I encourage everyone to become a volunteer. It is very difficult to find a job, and the YearBeyond programme teaches you how to apply yourself and show up. You have to be active and aware to take advantage of the opportunities, not just collect a stipend and have a nice time.

There are many opportunities to learn about yourself and to develop. This is an experimental phase where you have a year to experiment with your life. Don't forget why you joined. Give back and pay it forward for the learners.

I was a volunteer in 2016. I was looking for something to do. I wanted time out from studying. I had been working in a call centre but it wasn't meaningful work and it wasn't taking me anywhere. It was also stressful. So I went online and searched for internship opportunities and found YearBeyond.

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I was placed at I.D. Mkhize School in Gugulethu. There were challenges to overcome. Most learners had been referred to the after-school tutoring programme by teachers and it was hard to retain them. They were easily distracted. They escaped because they were thinking about things like 'will I be safe when I walk home?'

The best thing about volunteering was that it introduced me to mindfulness, which has had a big impact on my life. This came about when we, the volunteers at the school, were given a social innovation challenge as part of our training. Our challenge was how to instill a learning culture at the school. We decided to introduce mindfulness to help learners to engage with the syllabus because you find that, while they are physically in the classroom, their minds are elsewhere. They have limited attention. The learners responded to being in the present and learning to pause before they do something.

I got so interested in mindfulness. I am now doing a certificate course through Stellenbosch University on mindfulness-based interventions, and I am also on the board of the Mindfulness Institute.

Through volunteering at YearBeyond, I got to know Action Volunteers Africa (AVA) which ran a course for us on 'Breaking Beliefs', about all the self-limiting beliefs that we have that stop us from doing things. I was not confident in my abilities. When I sat down to apply for something, I would start doubting myself. I did not have the courage to do what I wanted to. I was born in Khayelitsha and I see how many people have self- limiting beliefs. They have so much potential but they hold back and limit themselves. I have friends who are in retail who started as packers and have stayed as packers when they could do try to go further.

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Asithandile Tyulu (21)

Asithandile Tyulu

I have always had a need to help young people, and started to study further. But after my first year, I could not go further because of lack of funds. I heard about Year Beyond from church members and was placed at ID Mkhize Secondary School in Gugulethu, where I was teaching Maths and English. The principal is well-organised and very supportive.

I loved the engagement with the kids, especially Fun Fridays. I started a debating club and the learners really engaged with that. During our winter programme, we debated against three other schools and our learners won everything.

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I enjoyed the self-development part of Year Beyond, where I was encouraged to be my best self and to explore who I am through the 'Breaking Beliefs' course. I thought I knew who I was, but I discovered that I didn't. The course doesn't tell you who you are. It gives you the tools to explore who you are and explains that it is OK to put your needs first in order to succeed.

I had a great team and a great facilitator so there weren't that many challenges, except for learners dropping out. Especially when we found that some dropped out because they stayed far from the school and it wasn't safe for them to walk home.

I strongly believe that everyone should volunteer. It gives you a lot and helps you to discover where your passion lies.

I am an intern at Fundza, where I am editing stories and running workshops and finding stories. I will also be studying through Unisa next year.

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Cameron Kleinsmith (20)

Cameron Kleinsmith

In high school my first choice was to study further to become a teacher. But when I submitted my application, I was told that the course was full. So I enrolled in Year Beyond because I wanted to teach. I was placed at Phoenix High School in Manenberg. The principal was very supportive of us and so were the other educators.

I really enjoyed helping the learners. I had been doing private maths tutoring before. I enjoyed seeing the learners excited and motivated when they could do what they were not able to do.

I also had a lot of personal growth. I learnt to be independent and how to cope on my own. I also learnt a lot about being a leader. I enjoyed the leadership course that we did at Stellenbosch University, that taught us about how to see and understand the dynamics of different people.

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Working in Manenberg was a challenge sometimes because of the gang violence. When there was violence in the area, parents might come to fetch the learners early so they didn't stay for the after-school classes. But if there were gunshots it was very difficult to keep learners in the programme. They couldn't concentrate and wanted to leave.

I encourage young people to volunteer. It is an opportunity that you won't regret because it builds you a lot as a person and gives you experience in how to cope with a lot of challenges.

I am now working with Action Volunteers Africa (AVA) as a co-ordinator of volunteers at two of the schools in the Year Beyond programme. I mentor 10 volunteers, and definitely my experience in Year Beyond helped to prepare me for this.

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Louwina Bendie (21)

Louwina Bendie

After I matriculated in 2016, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do although I was interested in teaching. I had been sitting at home for five months when I found the Year Beyond programme online. It was amazing. I made new friends and learnt what it is like to work. I never knew it was that difficult!

I was placed at Heideveld High School, working mainly with Grade 8 and 9s. The school was supportive and there were only a few kids who preferred not to listen. I did administration - taking the attendance register - and taught English.

I learned leadership skills. I gained experience in how to take control by leading. I was never a person who would speak up but now I had to be present and involved.

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I am training to be a pharmacy assistant, and doing my practical at Victoria Hospital. I got a bursary to study, but I would not have had the confidence to even go for the interview if I hadn't done the Year Beyond volunteering.

New volunteers should go ahead with their whole hearts. It is so beneficial and you learn a lot. It is not always easy, but you gain a lot.

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Lukhanyile Dolly (24)

Lukhanyile Dolly

I volunteered in 2018. I completed studying for my LLB, and I wanted to try something different. I saw the programme being advertised online, and I have always wanted to teach.

I was placed at Manyano High School in Khayelitsha. The best thing was the kids. I enjoyed teaching them Maths and English and seeing them respond. Sometimes it was challenging when the kids didn't pitch up. It affects you when they don't come back.

I learnt leadership skills and got more knowledge about myself. I encourage young people to try something different and volunteer. It will give you a different perspective and might change the way that you approach your life.

I am working at the SA Revenue Department in Cape Town, and also completing my practical law studies at the University of Cape Town.

I learnt leadership skills and got more knowledge about myself. I encourage young people to try something different and volunteer. It will give you a different perspective and might change the way that you approach your life.

I am working at the SA Revenue Department in Cape Town, and also completing my practical law studies at the University of Cape Town.

Lukhanyo Matshebelele (24)

Lukhanyo Matshebelele

I have always loved working with kids. When I could not complete my studies at Wits University because of financial constraints, I volunteered at a kids' programme in Crossroads where I taught maths and science. I then went back and did my second year at Wits, studying computational and applied mathematics, but at the end of that year, again I could not go back because of finances.

I saw the advertisement for Year Beyond and decided to volunteer. I was placed at Heideveld High, where I tutored Maths and English.

I loved helping out the kids, and seeing the look on their faces when they understood something that I had explained. Most of the learners were hard workers who reminded me of myself at school. They didn't see me as a teacher, more like a big brother, and it was easy for us to relate to each other.

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I enjoyed the self-development a lot. I felt down in 2017 because I could not go back to studying again. But I learnt so much, especially in the 'Breaking Beliefs' course, which was a safe space where we got comfortable with each other and shared our experiences. I even felt that maybe it had to happen that I didn't go back to Wits so that I could learn more about myself. I don't usually talk in groups, but I felt that people were listening and not judging. It gave me confidence about how to react in certain circumstances.

It was a bit challenging to explain to my parents that I wasn't going back to school and I also wasn't working. It was hard for them to understand volunteering.

But volunteering is fun. You get to learn a lot of things and make friends who have the same purpose as you do.

I am now working at Fundza as a technical assistant, working on the website. I have also written a story called 'Go for it' that Fundza has published. If it wasn't for Year Beyond, I would not be here.

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Nkhulu Gugu (27)

Nkhulu Gugu

I run my own business called iKasi Tutors. We give extra lessons to Grades 8 to 12 learners and it is going at a very good pace.

I have always loved tutoring. A friend told me about the Year Beyond volunteer programme and I decided to experience something new.

I was placed at Manyano High School in Khayelitsha. My year was very successful. I got more than I expected. I enjoyed the leadership courses, especially how to be a mentor, self-development and how to work with kids and communities. I also learnt skills about how to start my own business and I am so grateful.

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I advise people to volunteer to learn new skills. It shows you a new world and helps you to find your passion - what you love and don't love in life. It is hard to find a job, and the programme teaches you how to develop your own business and get sustainable income. Try to find your passion and build a career around it. I learnt to do this.

My challenge was financial. I am the first born and need to provide for my sisters and brothers, and the stipend was small. But that was my own problem, not the problem of the programme, which I loved.

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Sihle Ma-Awu (25)

Sihle Ma-Awu

I volunteered because I was interested in helping learners in my communities with Maths and English. I used to have a fulltime job but my contract came to an end.

I was placed at I.D. Mkhize Secondary School in Gugulethu, which was a very supportive environment. The principal and teachers would always check on us to see if there was anything that we needed.

The best thing was interacting with kids from the same background who come from the same conditions as I do. I grew up in Khayelitsha, but the conditions are the same as in Gugulethu and the learners could relate to me and see me as part of them. There was no gap between us.

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The programme of self-development really gets you ready for the work environment, and I enjoyed the 'Breaking Beliefs' course. We also did a leadership course at Stellenbosch University, which helped with self-development and self-awareness.

Volunteering is good for your self-development. If you are straight out of high school and don't know about the work environment, this will give you the feel and experience of being employed. It is very valuable to get you work-ready, learning about being on time and managing your time. You also learn what you are passionate about.

I am now employed as an intern by Community Chest, and I have been seconded to the Western Cape Education Department's After School Game-changers to work as a project assistant.

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What our volunteers think about YearBeyond