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SMU VC Prof Peter Mbati launches the Harambee Fund to help needy students

SMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mbati has pledged to donate R10 000 once off payment to the Harambee Annual Fund. Mbati made this announcement during the launch of the fund on 18 July 2022 and further committed to contribute R1000 every month and urged all staff members to complete the employee deduction forms to make their monthly contributions.

Mbati explained that Harambee – a Swahili word, means coming together of a community to assist each other to achieve a common purpose. The proceeds of this fund is to help academically deserving yet financially constrained students. “The target is to have all staff members to contribute a certain amount to the fund on a monthly basis. A number of the executive and senior management team have pledged to contribute R500 every month. This fund will ensure that vulnerable students can pursue their academic dreams with dignity and in a caring environment”, explained the Vice-Chancellor. He further emphasized that the SMU Annual Fund will be the University’s umbrella strategy to raise funds through various activities targeting own internal staff and students, Convocation and Alumni, business and foundations at both national and international levels.

“My dream is that ALL the staff members at SMU will find it within their hearts to become part of this unique SMU initiative by making monthly contributions towards the fund, thereby becoming guardians of our needy students. It takes a village to raise a child. Let the spirit of Harambee live in us” said the VC. I have a lot of faith that the spirit of Ubuntu that lives in all of us will be our guiding conscience, and that this initiative that we have launched today will be sustained year round, he said.

SRC President Philani Mdakane used the occasion to challenge everyone to make a minimal contribution of R67. Let us use the 67 minutes of Mandela day and turn it into R67 contribution for this important cause. He pledged to make a personal contribution of R670 in line with the theme for Nelson Mandela Day. Mdakane said the SRC cannot turn a blind eye when students go to sleep without a meal. He said the spirit of giving must first start with the SMU community before soliciting contributions externally. He said this year the SRC helped more than 300 students through the hands of compassion as compared to previous years.

Ms Karabo Raphokoane who is a lecturer and an Executive member of of the University Alumni, urged all alumni to make a contribution to the fund. She hinted that the University’s alumni is willing to make a contribution and is supportive of initiatives of this nature. She committed to rally them to support the initiative through various activities. Ms Raphokoane reminded everyone that the same Alumni came to the rescue of students when Covid-19 hit our shores by contributing R25 000 towards their transportation. She further called on alumni that are on Campus to heed the call.

Dr Tshifhiwa Mulaudzi, the Chairperson of Nehawu encouraged staff members and students to make their contribution to the fund. “It takes a village to raise a child, all of us seated here are products of people who believed in us. Somebody somewhere made sacrifices”, said Mulaudzi. He said by making contributions, this will encourage others elsewhere to do the same. He said it is difficult for students to function optimally when they are hungry and called on everyone including big corporates to make contributions to the Harambee Fund. Mulaudzi also said he will climb Mount Kilimanjaro as part of raising funds for students.

The APSA/SAPTU union Chairperson Mr Monedi Lekabe also pledged support to the initiative. “The Vice-Chancellor alone cannot resolve the magnitude of the social ills of the past. It is for this reason that we request the whole SMU community to make a meaningful contribution to this Harambee fund to achieve the goal of raising the 1 million rand”, said Lekabe.

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SMU VC Prof Mbati launches the harambee fund

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