The Girl Who Had a Dream

How many of us have the courage and willpower to rewrite our own stories?

 One of our 2013 Open Learning Academy students, Olwethu Fandileki, wrote a new story for herself, working extremely hard to win a scholarship to Uplands College, one of South Africa’s top schools.

 But before that scholarship was won, Olwethu literally wrote a story and in that story both her courage and willpower to create something better for herself are palpable.

 Even more powerful, the story has been published and is now inspiring more rural children to become storytellers themselves.

 Good Work Foundation staffers, Ryan James and Crispen Bhumbghe, recently presented Olwethu with a copy of her published book at Uplands College.

 These are the words that Ryan shared with the entire school and, deservedly so, Olwethu received a touching standing ovation:

Today I am here to talk to you about “The Girl Who Had a Dream.”

Me and my colleague, Crispen, are from a South African nonprofit organisation called Good Work Foundation, and our mission is to work in rural communities challenging how we learn, what we learn, but most important, WHO has access to learning.

We have four digital learning campuses, all in rural communities, and one of them is located just outside Hazyview on the road to the Kruger Gate.

There is a young lady sitting amongst you, who is from a rural community and twice a week, after school, she would walk many kilometers to get to our digital learning campus in Hazyview.

She would come and work on our computers and our tablets, pretty much teaching herself English and math’s using digital apps. She did this every week, without fail.

Four years ago, Good Work Foundation hosted a team from Stanford University.

They are part of a project called 1001 Stories, and their mission is to assist rural children to become original storytellers, helping them to develop their literacy skills, but also to develop their dreams.

The stories are then shared with other children around the world, to inspire them to write their own stories and, in turn, their own dreams. The best stories are published.

In 2013, the young lady, now sitting here at Uplands, was practicing her Math’s at the Good Work Foundation Hazyview Campus, when the team from Stanford arrived, and she was part of more than a hundred students who spent the week writing. All kinds of beautiful stories.

Late last year, the Stanford team returned. And one of the team members said to me: “Ryan, I forgot to tell you, one of your students from 2013 wrote an amazing story, one that touched our whole team. We published it and we now take it with us to countries all over the world, showing children the power of storytelling. The power of finding their inner voice.”

The story was called “The Girl Who Had a Dream” and the author is Olwethu Fandileki.

Olwethu, dreams are what life is made of.

But more importantly, if our own dreams can touch the lives of others, then we are using our unique gift as human beings in the most beautiful way.

I would like to take this opportunity to call you up to present you with your published book.


From left to right: Ryan James, Olwethu Fandileku and Crispen Bvumbghe at Uplands College during the presentation of the book.


The cover of the book “The Girl Who Had a Dream.” written by Olwethu Fandileku. Olwethu did not know that her story was now in a book up until the very moment the Good Work Foundation team presented it to her at her school assembly.

Written by Hazyview Media Academy.