A passion for uplifting struggling young people
When she is not lecturing chemistry students at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, Zikhona Tywabi-Ngeva is mentoring young graduates and school students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Since starting her nonprofit company, the Dr ZTN Foundation, in 2018, Tywabi-Ngeva has dedicated her spare time to providing career guidance and support to youngsters.
“According to a Stats SA 2018 report, the Eastern Cape was and still is regarded as the poorest province in SA in terms of the GDP.
“The Eastern Cape is predominantly rural, and many children are born and raised in environments where family members do not possess any type of education, or if they do it is a low level, and they are largely unemployed.
“This makes it difficult for a child coming from this disadvantaged background to gain a good grasp on post-school education and work environments,” Tywabi-Ngeva, who at 34 is the youngest woman senior lecturer in physical chemistry in SA, said.
She has lectured at the University of Fort Hare, UKZN, the University of Zululand and the Durban University of Technology, but Tywabi-Ngeva said it was her experiences as a lecturer in the Eastern Cape that inspired her to start her foundation.
“My aim is to empower, nurture and develop young people in the Eastern Cape and equip them with the skills they need to make an impact in their local communities and SA,” she said.
My aim is to empower, nurture and develop young people in the Eastern Cape and equip them with the skills they need to make an impactZikhona Tywabi-Ngeva
Born and raised in Machibini village outside Ilinge township in Komani, Tywabi-Ngeva said through the foundation, she offered a “fitted for work” clothing drive and shared various academic and work opportunities.
“We collect professional clothes from friends, colleagues and local business people to give to graduates from underprivileged backgrounds who will be starting new jobs or attending job interviews after they have graduated from university.
“I also have an active Facebook page where I share job opportunities, scholarship opportunities, in-service training and learnership opportunities,” Tywabi-Ngeva said.
Thulethu Seyisi, one of her Master’s students, said Tywabi-Ngeva was more than just a lecturer.
“She is more like a parent to me. No doubt she is the woman we look up to as young scientists,” Seyisi, 23, said. — Daily Dispatch