Stillwater nonprofit putting kids first — on the other side of the world

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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.

The Stillwater nonprofit Bantfwana Phambili (“Children First” in siSwati) saw 100 percent of the students its supports graduate last year. (Submitted photo)

The Stillwater nonprofit Bantfwana Phambili (“Children First” in siSwati) saw 100 percent of the students its supports graduate last year. (Submitted photo)

“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?”

Continue reading this Stillwater Gazette story by Jonathan Young.

 

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