Prof. Thuli Madonsela, the first director of the newly established Centre for Social Justice at Stellenbosch University, and a group of supporters for the #Action4Inclusion (#A4I) campaign on Saturday (3 February) endured the scorching Stellenbosch sun to walk 7 kilometers in the Banhoek Conservancy in their effort to raise money and create awareness for students who are struggling with debt to continue their studies.
A group of around forty supporters arrived early morning at the Bethlehem farm and, armed with a “roosterkoek" and “koesister" organised by Visit Stellenbosch, explored the beautiful hiking trail in the Banhoek valley in Kylemore, outside Stellenbosch. This was the fifth time a #Action4Inclusion Social Justice Walk took place, and Prof Madonsela (who has already climbed a mountain or two and walked many kilometers) says it is only the beginning of many to come. The hike was led by TV personality, author, and journalist Erns Grundling. He gives his spare time for this worthy cause led by Prof Madonsela and her team from Social Justice. #Action4Inclusion is led by law graduate and candidate attorney Thembalethu Seyisi and final-year engineering student S'thabile Duma.
In 2020, the Student Representative Council at SU, Prof. Madonsela, Prof. Sonia Human, the former dean of the SU Faculty of Law, and other social justice ambassadors collaborated to launch the # A4I initiative. This is one of the many programmes funded by the SU's annual Bridge the Gap fund. “We are all concerned about closing the gap between talent and financial need, and this fund helps the community to support our students in that regard," said Prof. Madonsela.
The funds raised via #Action4Inclusion are used to support students who cannot register for the next academic year because of outstanding student fees and graduates who cannot access their academic records upon graduation, which hampers their capacity to contribute to a talented workforce. “We believe that education is a right and not a privilege, and we are committed to creating a more inclusive environment where all students can thrive," Prof Madonsela concluded.
Erns also reminded the group that Prof Thuli would walk a more than 300-kilometre route in October this year after she began her Pilgrimage of Hope in August last year. This is a popular but challenging pilgrimage route of more than 300 km, through diverse communities and beautiful scenery, from Stellenbosch to the southernmost tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas. The target for fundraising is R3 million, which will be used to alleviate student debt.
Prof Madonsela is no stranger to hiking for causes as she has already summitted Mount Kilimanjaro twice (2019 and 2022) for the Trek4Mandela initiative to celebrate Nelson Mandela's legacy and many more.
To support this worthy cause, you can donate to #Action4Inclusion through the givengain website by clicking on this link: