When Maties Frederik Schutyser and Rachel Spichiger saw an opportunity to support students at their alma mater, they did not hesitate. Towards the end of 2021, they decided to make a donation to Stellenbosch University's Bridge the Gap (BTG) campaign.
BTG, which was launched in 2021, aims to remove the obstacles that are hindering Maties from having a meaningful student experience and obtaining that sought-after degree.
The University is raising funds for various initiatives under the umbrella of BTG. These include: #Move4Food and the Tygerberg Pantry Project to curb student hunger; #Action4Inclusion, #GradMe, Caught in the Middle, and #Zim4Zim to clear outstanding student debt; #EndPeriodPoverty to make sanitary hygiene products available to students who cannot afford them; and #MatiesHaveDrive to provide driver training for students who require a driving licence in order to get a job. Supporters can choose which priority initiative they would like to support, whether that is a particular initiative or the Fund in general.
“This Fund provided a very real and concrete opportunity to make a difference," Frederik and Rachel said. The two, who met in Stellenbosch in 1997 when Rachel was on an exchange term studying literature and Frederik was studying towards his LLM, said they are very conscious of the importance of a quality education and were happy to do their part by making a contribution.
“We want students to enjoy their unique journey without undue stress and graduate with peace of mind. Our journey led us from Botswana to Zambia and from Switzerland to Denmark, before we settled in Brussels in 2011.
“We are currently working at the European Commission [Rachel in international partnerships, and Frederik in humanitarian aid] and we both have the desire to pay it forward. If we can play just a small part in helping a student reach his or her full potential, it will be wonderful!"