TEACH Ambassador Monalisah Gogela’s Inspired to Inspire Community Development Project
“Education is important because it is the most valuable thing that you can’t take away from someone” – Monalisah Gogela
In 2015, Monalisah Gogela completed her studies in Public Management and Governance at the University of Johannesburg and was looking “to make a difference” in the lives school children, “…to help those who may be going through some of the challenges I went through in life”. During her third year she started working on her own initiative, the Inspired to Inspire community development project. She committed herself to providing school shoes to children in need, and to “motivate learners by letting them know that [others] understand where they come from and care about them”.
In second year, Monalisah was awarded a certificate for Top Student of Excellence by the university. She said that, “coming from a disadvantaged background that really inspired me. I was inspired by myself – my achievements and my experiences and that’s why I called the initiative Inspired to Inspire”.
As the only funder, Gogela started with school shoes for only two learners. She then saw the need to extend the numbers “as most of the learners come from poor family backgrounds in difficult situations”. Wanting to make the project a success, she raised funds by “asking for donations door to door” at the student residents of her campus. Over the years Monalisah has been able to give over 140 pairs of shoes to children in different schools, “…but the goal is to reach out to as many learners as I can” said Gogela.
Whilst studying and interning, both full time, she came across TEACH South Africa and decided that by becoming a teacher she could do more by “giving back to Africa through education…because if it wasn’t for education I wouldn’t be where I am today or be prepared for where I am going”.
When asked about her experience as an Ambassador she said with great emphasis, “I am grateful for this experience as it has taught me a lot. I also feel unique because there is something different about me. I connect with these learners on a personal level and I aim to change their way of thinking, to show them that their challenges can be overcome once they make their education a priority and set goals to further their education in the future”.
Currently, Gogela has gotten involved in many more projects around the school. She has also shifted her focus from school shoes to Matric Dance. She asked the school Head of Department to help her identify five learners who are facing challenging circumstances but are performing well academically and has volunteered to pay for their entrance to the dance and as well as their outfits. “I feel that the dance is an important calendar event in the learner’s school career and I want to do something. They are doing their best academically and I would like to reward them for that”.
Today, not only is her project the success she had wished for, she has also found her way into the classroom as a teacher and has gone the extra mile to help learners wherever there is an opportunity. As she looks to the future Monalisah said, “whatever I do, whether I stay in the teaching profession or not, I will continue to give”. Her actions convey her heart and show what an inspiration she is to those around her.