Guest blogger Linda Helfet — friend of Acacia Global

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Linda Helfet has been a friend of Acacia Global since 2003. She is a South African who lived in the United States from 1963 until 2003. She and her husband Bill, an American, have decided to return to the US permanently at the end of April to be with their two sons, wives, and five grandchildren. Linda introduced these three young women to Acacia Global with the hope of giving them the opportunity to pursue their dream of obtaining an education and the chance to help themselves and their families stop the cycle of poverty. They are bright, caring, and have the drive to excel. Below is Linda’s story that she sent to her friends and family in the United States. We are so grateful to Linda for caring about these three young women and wanted to share her story on our website.

Three South African stories:

The photo attached is from having Sunday lunch at Kirstenbosch with Jane, (my fellow American Aunty), and our 3 student “mentees.” They are all young women I’ve met along the way, and in whose talents I’ve been impressed. All have zero available resources but lots of intelligence and drive and HUGE dreams.  Fortunately, Jane is the director of a non-profit in the US called Acacia Global. They assist in funding higher education for youngsters exactly like these … so I was the conduit to her and she has picked up the financial end of things. I have also been able to establish an internship program with SABLE/Forex, a financial company here in Cape Town, for Rachel and Nolu … we’ve formed a wonderful, productive circle which hopefully will launch these youngsters into fine careers.

They are:

Front left: Linky, whom we’ve known since she was 10 years old. She’s the foster child of Miriam, our cleaning lady. She was abandoned by her birth mother and her childhood foster mother died and left her in the hands of her foster brother who became a drug addict and abandoned her yet again. Miriam, with our support and the help of some of her other customers, has given her love and a home. She wants to be an Office Administrator and is currently studying at MSC Business College.

Behind her: Rachel, who comes from North of Joburg. I bumped into her on the day she rrived to register at UCT for a degree in Maths. She had never been out of her local rural area!!  She comes from a mud-hut school where there were no computers, no teachers who were computer literate but a maths teacher who inspired superior maths talent. She would walk for an hour to a larger village to use a library and teach herself how to use a computer. She managed to get a scholarship to UCT (the premier University in SA) on her excellent grades. When I met her she had no appropriate accommodation, and I was concerned for her safety, so with the help of an ex-chancellor of the university who we know indirectly, managed to get her into the on-campus dorms. Sadly, she was not well advised about appropriate courses, so she flunked all her maths ones, but got distinction in her Computer Sciences.

Jane and I managed to get her into a small local college (MSC) where she excelled (acing ALL her programming classes), and is going for her Masters in computer programming. She’s loving (and seems to be thoroughly comfortable in) the work she’s doing at her internship, which provides a small living stipend, and could very well lead to a job. Rachel is currently doing online classes through the University of South Africa studying Computer Software.

Back right: Nolubabalo, who passed High School college exams last year. She and her family live in a shack in one of the impoverished townships outside CT, she saw no chance for herself to get out of there. Extraordinarily, she found out about volunteering so that she could learn some skills and be a useful citizen … she landed up at the SHINE literacy program where one day I heard her talking about wanting to become an accountant. She was one of the bright sparks in the classroom, and seemed incredibly mature for an 18-year old … Jane was enthralled with her story and decided to offer her the 3rd scholarship to MSC Business College where she’s now enrolled. She started her internship at Sable/Forex together with Rachel. She has already wowed her mentor there and is sure to shine.

Front right: Aunty Jane, who comes to CT for a couple of months several times a year.

Each of these young women will eventually be successful not only for themselves, but as important providers to help their families out of poverty. Jane and I have so much fun sharing their excitement and knowing that their talents won’t be wasted as you can see from the photo.

Susan Everson