Our deaths are few


I look again at the recent investigation by OUTA into corruption within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) which has left thousands of students without study aid. This investigation indicated, among other things, that high profile members and even the minister of higher education as well as the chairman of the NSFAS board were among the “beneficiaries” of the study aid.

Who is now standing and stealing from students, from the future of our country… You are actually taking care of yourself, aren’t you?

In contrast, I look again at all the students that Solidarity Helping Hand Study Trust has placed in the community – people who are now in professions, people who are our children’s doctors, our toddlers’ teachers, our parents’ home carers, our new buildings’ architects, our country’s lawyers.

Then I get hot with anger and I also sigh in disbelief that there are people at the helm of the country, who not only deprive our students of this, but also our country.

NSFAS received a total of 1,745,266 applications for the 2024 academic year, of which 604,675 students have not yet received help. Corruption at this institution not only causes a negative connotation and lack of trust, but also deprives many students of the opportunity to get tertiary education. Without this training, it puts the students at risk of struggling to get a good job and thus addressing the unemployment problem in South Africa. Furthermore, NSFAS blames universities for late allocation of funds where universities have to stop studies for weeks, because NSFAS students have not yet been able to fully register and pay registration fees.

Community gives back

A little while ago we sat and talked at Solidarity Helping Hand’s annual executive committee summit about the difference between NSFAS and Solidarity Helping Hand’s Study Trust.

Here at the Solidarity Helping Hand’s Study Trust, we pride ourselves on thorough, transparent and honest processes that have been making a difference in students’ lives since 2009. Processes such as feedback and payouts that move like a well-oiled machine, compared to NSFAS where students receive little or even no feedback as well as fraud and corruption.

Where students have a loan from the Study Trust, they know exactly where they stand in the process and need not experience any anxiety. NSFAS students usually don’t even know if they will be able to continue their studies and go to class.

The Helping Hand Study Trust’s transparency and honesty in every step of a student’s application process ensures credibility.

That is why we know that the students who are helped by Solidarity Helping Hand’s Study Trust are safe – that they do what they have to do so that they can stand proudly as pillars of hope in their community. We know they bring progress, we know that they are busy with their calling.

We have recently 15 years already more than 7,000 students with a total amount of R300 million ‘s interest-free student loans helped. 5,011 of these students have already graduated and are already working. There is 307 donors involved in this initiative to help African students in South Africa’s dreams come true and also to create a better South Africa, one in which we can live and work freely, safely and prosperously.

Our deaths are few

For the Study Trust, the environment and the state are confirmation of the undeniable role each plays in the future of students and the country. One cannot always experience the harvest, but one must sow to break the cycle and help communities and the country develop.

At the same recent summit, we also agree that we will be like the broomstick of the poet Totius:

But though around my tribe beats the raging flame
that sows crackling sparks;
though all the winds come, the ill-disposed,
to blow my ashes out of the world;
even though the animal also comes to celebrate its appetite; though I am cut and split;
though I am smothered by the sun above
who wants to rob my last juices;
yet I see my height in the most terrible drought
with my ever-greening top;
and my roots endure both drought and fire,
yes I rise from my ashes again.
Then let men and beasts, drought and feasts,
with all who wish to devise their evil,
but come to chop, burn and trample –
I live and will live; getting me dead is little!

I think it is self-evident that we will not allow the state to get us down, that we will continue to build, that we will get killed – like the broom forest of Toitus – few.

The pressure that these types of organizations place on a trust like ours is not small. But we do not resist the pressure – we see it rather as an opportunity to build further, to help donors to establish a study fund in their names and to leave a legend behind. A legend of a broom bush that rises again and again through wind, rain and fire and continues to grow.

We invite the community to become part of the broom bush mentality we have at Helpende Hand Studietrust and not allow others to discourage us, to continue to help sow and build.

Visit https://hh-studietrust.co.za/.