Student of the Week: Shadrack Mkhabela

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” – Robert F. Kennedy

At the beginning of 2013 Shadrack Mkhabela – now a Tracker at Londolozi Private Game Reserve – was on his way home to Justicia when he noticed two young men hanging around outside of his house. What was clear to Shadrack was that the two young men were brothers, but he soon learnt that they were twins too.

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Shadrack Mkhabela

“My first reaction was to ask the twins why they were not in school” says Shadrack, “and like so many of our youth, they couldn’t give me a proper answer. I had seen them around before, not bad guys, but how long can young people stay out of trouble if they are out of a job and not being given any direction in life?

And so on that day, I did something I hadn’t expected to do. I went to visit the headmaster of the local school.”

The headmaster’s news came as no surprise. The twins, Sipho and Sizwe, did not have a school uniform or any stationery. The school didn’t know of a legal guardian or even parents that they could contact. In short, there was no way the school could continue to take responsibility without the help, or accountability, of a relative or guardian.

“If you chase these boys from school, you are chasing them away from their future” were Shadrack’s exact words to the headmaster. “He saw that I was serious, and after a long discussion, he agreed to readmit the twins, so long as I took responsibility for their behaviour, and organised a uniform for them”.

Today the twins from Justicia are in Grade 10. With the help of Good Work Foundation (GWF), Shadrack has provided the twins with a full school uniform and has enrolled them in the GWF International Computer Driving License course at Madlala Digital Learning Centre. Shadrack helps with homework when he is home, and corresponds with the school to monitor the twin’s progress.

Shadrack is on a mission to make sure that the twins graduate.

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The twins: Sizwe and Sipho

“I started off in the same boat as the twins” says Shadrack. “I got a lucky break when I was offered a job in bush banqueting at Londolozi. Once there, I knew I wanted to be a Tracker and then, one day, a Ranger. Kate Groch and Gogo Mo from GWF believed in me. Kate tutored me through my FGASA level 1 and then GWF provided me with a salary to support my family, including my parents, during my one-year course at the Tracker Academy. Without that support, I would not have been able to study.”

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Tracking big cats at Londolozi

“What stands out for me” says Kate Groch, GWF CEO, “is that Mr. Shadrack Mkhabela is only 26 years old. He is a leader. A leader of his own life, but also of the people around him. What he has achieved for himself, and what he has done for two other young men is remarkable. In working to change a small portion of events, Shadrack’s empathy and courage will send out ripples of change and shape a tiny fraction of the next generation. That’s the future.”

“One last thing” says Shadrack grinning, “don’t forget that if you lose track, there is always a plan B.”

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