Rhodes student’s outreach programme helps pupils in village
Fresh from a “holiday” where she helped struggling pupils improve their maths marks, a Rhodes University honours student will look at new entrepreneurship projects she can undertake to continue supporting her family.
Sinenhlanhla Bhengu, 21, born and raised in the village of Oakford, north of Durban, uses her free time between studying and attending classes to help and mentor others.
In 2015, Bhengu started a community outreach programme called Young Geniuses in her hometown, which she uses to teach English and public speaking to high school pupils during the June and December holidays.
“I also started a midnight tuckshop at Rhodes called Midnight Munchies, which I run during exam periods as a side business,” the economics major said, adding that the business was successful and made a substantial profit.
Bhengu’s vision is to improve the lives of South Africans by educating them to be critical thinkers through participation rather than observation while also thinking out of the box.
“I am passionate about social entrepreneurship,” she said.
The former Sacred Heart Secondary School pupil credits her mother for her motivation and ambitions.
“My family’s circumstances motivate me,” she said.
“Living in a house with no running water or flushing toilet, barely knowing if you can afford next month’s groceries, is not where I want to be in the next five years.
“My mom is my role model. Managing to raise three kids on her own has not been easy.”
Bhengu said her mother had pushed her to work hard from Grade 1.
Her father died in 2009 and her unemployed mother had to look after her and her two sisters.
“I am the woman I am today because of the investment she made in me,” she said.
Besides being awarded the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation scholarship in matric, Bhengu also received the 2015 Allan Gray Academic Achievement award and was on the Rhodes Dean’s List the same year.
Once she has completed her honours degree in economics, she hopes to work in the corporate world.
Bhengu envisions her future in the next five years as “having built my family a house and, hopefully, running my organisation and a small food business on the side”.
“I’ve always been good at multi-tasking, so I hope I can do it all,” she said.
Bhengu is one of six Rhodes students who received a Mandela Rhodes Foundation scholarship.