Stillwater nonprofit putting kids first — on the other side of the world
When Stillwater-based nonprofit Bantfwana Phambili started in 2007, it paid the costs for three teens in South Africa to stay in school. This year the organization, whose name means “Children First” in siSwati, supports 101 students.
“In South Africa you have to be in school until 15 years of age,” said Stillwater resident and Bantfwana Phambili co-founder Tom Junker. “At 15, you’re on your own.”
That means students are responsible for the cost of school fees, uniforms and school supplies. If they can’t afford them, they can’t continue attending school and reach the point of passing the matriculation exam to graduate high school.
That’s a big deal.
“Without the matriculation exam passed, you can’t get employment that amounts to anything,” Junker said. “The rest of your life, you’re going to be relegated to what, picking up potatoes?”