Motlokwe Thobejane, IT director on the campus in Vanderbijlpark, assists learners with career guidance and mentoring while also keeping them informed about the entry requirements for university studies.
– a big man with an even bigger heart
There are three things that are hard to miss about Motlokwe Thobejane: his height – 1,96m to be exact – his mastery of it and his compassion for others.
What many colleagues might not know about the newly appointed IT director on the campus in Vanderbijlpark is that he is also the managing director and co-founder of the not-for-profit Mohlotlo Thuto Foundation (MTF), as well as an international United Nations (UN) volunteer, a News24 blogger and a poet.
With the memory of Mandela Day fresh in our minds, what better time to learn more about his foundation and the good work being done in the rural district of Sekhukhune in the Limpopo Province?
Youth empowerment at the heart of MTF
Motlokwe says he and a friend, Octavius Phukubye, started the foundation in June 2013 to assist learners from the Sekhukhune district to improve their academic performance. This is to enable them to apply for university studies and by doing so ultimately break free from the cycle of poverty.
“At that time Sekhukhune was regarded as one of the most rural and academically underperforming districts in South Africa,” says Motlokwe. As a native of Morapaneng, a small village in the district, he is familiar with the dire socio-economic situation that prevails in the district.
Brewing academic success
The word “mohlotlo” means “brewing” in Sepedi and according to Motlokwe this is exactly what the foundation aims to do: brew academic excellence. At present, it is working closely with eight secondary schools in the district, namely: Moseki, Lesailane, Tekanang, Tshihlo, Poo, Phafane, Makuane and Mpilo.
Together with a team of like-minded and dedicated volunteers, Motlokwe assists these learners with career guidance, mentoring and tutoring while also keeping them informed about the entry requirements for university studies.
“I made a decision to be part of the solution and not the problem,” says Motlokwe. He adds that it is easy to be overwhelmed by what is wrong or lacking in the world. It does however take courage and a spirit of hope to take action.
“I grew up in the very same circumstances as these youngsters, but by grace and hard work I managed to overcome many challenges. I think this is why the foundation is so important to me; it offers me an opportunity to make a real impact in a place where I know every bit will go a long way.”
His biggest achievement
In 2014, while in the service of IT company EMC (now Dell-EMC), he received the EMC Global Community Service Award for the work done through his foundation. He was chosen from a host of international candidates.
“Given the socio-economic, educational and youth unemployment challenges facing South Africa, the award shone a bright light on the work and needs of the foundation,” says Motlokwe.
The award, which came only a year after the inception of the foundation, motivated him and the other volunteers to work even harder and enable more learners to become agents of change. To date more than 5 000 learners have benefited from the foundation’s work.
Let your passion guide you
Asked how others can contribute towards the culture of caring, Motlokwe shares this advice: “Let yourself be guided by your passion. The first step is usually the most difficult, but once you get started, it will get easier. Be selfless. Give without expecting something in return and, the most important: know that even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference.”