A Better South Africa. One degree at a Time
Financially strapped students from the Valley of 1000 Hills are being given a lifeline to a better future and the opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty thanks to a Hillcrest based NPO.The Hillcrest Advice Bureau and Bursary Fund (HABandBF) is an inspiring KwaZulu-Natal based NPO providing underprivileged and impoverished students, wanting to attend university, with the opportunity to do so.
The Fund, which operates out of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Hillcrest, helps students who have received assistance from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), as well as students who cannot pay their Central Applications Office (CAO) registration fees.
To be considered by the Fund as a recipient, applicants must meet the criteria of achieving four Cs in matric, one in English. The application process is simple but strict – students are required to send in an application form together with a motivational letter, thereafter they are interviewed to assess their communication skills and ambition.
“It is important for the Fund to see that the students who apply are motivated, willing to work hard to succeed at their chosen institution and are able to communicate in English as this is the language of the business world,” explains Tanya Harvey, chairperson of the HABandBF.
The Fund, which had humble beginnings as a feeding scheme started by then-members of the Black Sash in Durban in 1972, now has grown to fund 55 students in tertiary institutions in 2016.
The then feeding scheme was started by Black Sash members and Hillcrest residents Mary Grice, Chris Carlisle and Margaret Hall, after identifying that many children in the impoverished areas surrounding the Valley of 1000 Hills were going hungry every day. The feeding scheme was feeding up to around 2 000 children from 8 primary and junior schools a week, as well as providing local pupils and students with transport and school uniforms – all of which was achieved solely through donations.
In 2004, after being informal for 32 years, the HABandBF was made an official NPO focusing on assisting students with tertiary education. This includes funding for actual tertiary fees as well as books, transport, housing, living expenses and trade equipment – whatever a student may need for and during their education.
“The Fund relies on generous sponsors who want to better the futures of the South African youth, and range from big corporations to individual people. As the economic and social climate worsens, sponsors are harder to come by, while on the other hand, there are more students applying every day,” says Harvey.
“Sponsors can do more than make monetary donations, as the NPO focuses on life skills and development as well as supporting students. The HABandBF has worked with needy schools such as KwaBasothini School in the Valley of 1000 Hills, and have changed the lives of the students and staff by improving the structures, the library and by getting much-needed furniture from sponsors,” she goes on to say.
UK born Harvey is the current dynamic leader of HABandBF, who became involved with the Fund in 2009, chairing it since 2010. Her passion for education, belief in its ability to empower people, and her experience in the UK schooling system make her the ideal candidate to head up such a unique NPO.
“The ultimate goal of the hard-working members of this NPO is to break children out of the cycle of poverty and ensure they find a good career. They may not change the world, but they can change their own world,” says Harvey.
For further information visit www.habandbf.co.za or contact Tanya Harvey on 082 422 9683
Chairperson of HABandBF, Tanya Harvey, and ex-chairperson of HABandBF Connie Johnson, celebrate with Bonga Bhengu from KwaNgcolosi near Hillcrest, a student assisted by the Fund with the balance of his tertiary education fees which the National Student Financial Aid Scheme did not cover, the cost of books and transport to attend tutorials and exams. The fund also donated a second hand computer provided by Kearsney College. Bonga completed his Bachelor in Education through the University of South Africa in December 2014 with final marks of 100%, 100%, 99% and 96%. He is now working as a Supply Teacher specializing in High School Accounting while he pays for himself to complete his Honours Degree in Accountancy.