An ambitious campaign to support and develop young South Africans from challenging backgrounds, to both inspire others and achieve their personal goals, after participating in the world’s longest ocean race, has launched a Foundation to provide a long-term legacy programme.
The Sapinda Rainbow Project worked with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to select a group of young South Africans aged 18-23, who each took part in one of the eight legs of the 40,000-mile, 11-month long, global race, as part of an innovative personal and community leadership skills development programme.
Lebalang Molobele, a 22 year-old from Meadowlands, Guateng, near Johannesburg, South Africa, who participated in the final leg of the race aboard Invest Africa, has recently been talking about her desire to inspire other young people following her experience and is taking up the role of spokesperson for her fellow participants.
Recently the newly launched Sapinda Rainbow Foundation supported Lebalang’s selection to attend the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture presented by Dr. Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, a respected women’s rights activist and the first Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
The lecture discussed building social cohesion through active citizenship, a subject very close to Lebalang’s heart: “I live in a society where young people are not united and functional which creates a problem as we cannot flourish. After listening to such an inspirational woman and talking to others like her, I have a dream to be an inspirational woman, a leader in my community, a young African woman who will bring change for young girls.
“I used to think my potential will always be limited by my background, but it is because of it I know how it is to eat dry bread and starch water for a month and now appreciate when I eat meat. I can relate to a person who suffers from poverty. It is also because I have lived in a house that was a shebeen (an informal licensed drinking place in a township). I have come to know that through education I can escape the chances of selling alcohol to feed my family.”
Lebalang is in the early stages of fundraising and growing her registered club Kganyo Training Institution. Kganyo meaning ‘brightness’ has been set up by Lebalang for youths in her community to help develop public speaking and debate to engage with one another alongside strengthening their life skills including computer literacy.
It has been a huge journey for Lebalang, who before hearing about the Sapinda Rainbow Project was struggling to find a job. After being selected for the project she went back to university and passed her LLB Law degree with distinction.
Lebalang, who has a self-confessed fear of water, took part in the final leg of the race from New York across the Atlantic to London.
The Clipper Race is the only global sailing event that trains amateurs to take on the adventure of crossing some of the world’s most demanding oceans; it has a proven track record of personal development, especially with young people from challenging backgrounds.
The Sapinda Rainbow Foundation will continue to mentor the participants from this year’s Clipper race, and will become involved in the next edition, hoping to build its youth leadership development further to other regions in Africa. Former crew including Lebalang will be involved in the selection process and organisation of finding future young Africans who can benefit from the personal development participation in the race offers.
Dirk van Daele, CEO of Anoa Capital S.A. and Founder of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation, participated in the 2009-10 edition of the Clipper Race when he first discovered how it developed young people from challenging backgrounds in building their confidence and leadership skills.
”Once we completed the first race, we knew we needed to keep on mentoring the participants to ensure they could build on the experience and we will continue to assist them in fulfilling their own objectives as well as giving back to the communities form which they came.”
Lebalang adds: “The Sapinda Rainbow Project has made me want more and believe that I deserve more. I am proud to be a part of it and am profoundly grateful for all the opportunities I have benefited from as well as the support, words of wisdom and encouragement.
“What the foundation has done for me is something no one can take away, today I write this with confidence that in the next five years I will do great things, and it all started with me crossing the Atlantic Ocean.”
The Foundation recently launched its official website www.sapindarainbow.com where there is more information about the Foundation’s objectives and the full text of Lebalang’s blog about the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Cape Town.