“For Sumbandila to truly be an institution of learning and healing both the staff and the scholars need to be continually learning from one another and caring for one another so that the transformation process can run deep”.

Living with their new Sumbandila family

For many it is the first time that they have lived apart from their immediate community. They are now living and studying alongside other children that they may only have met on our induction day.

Bridging two economic worlds

They have to face the difficult and ongoing navigation between two completely different worlds; their poorer home backgrounds and their more privileged lives in Makhado (Louis Trichardt).

Problematic family backgrounds

Many are leaving behind unstable homes, with vulnerable siblings and/or elderly and unwell parents or grandparents. The death of family members during school term is a far too common occurrence for our scholars. Although some of the children on our program have a loving and supporting guardian or parent in their lives, more typically they come from home environments characterised by extreme poverty, absenteeism, terminal illness, death of parents, domestic violence and often abuse.

Attending a middle class school

They are exposed to middle class students (fee paying students) at Ridgeway College who are not always sensitive and sympathetic to their backgrounds, and may have to deal with feelings of inferiority based on their economic and cultural backgrounds.

Academic challenges

Although the children excel in our recruitment tests and were excellent scholars in their own primary schools, they are suddenly faced with a first language English medium of instruction and a much higher academic level. The initial drop in their academic results and an initial social awkwardness results in a lack of confidence and feelings of vulnerability.


Our students often suffer from a feeling of guilt at being selected onto the programme as they remain surrounded by peers at home who are not as fortunate.

Community ostracism

They have often faced (at times fierce) ostracism from some members of their local communities as a result of accepting a place with Sumbandila, out of jealousy or other factors.

“It always seems impossible until it is done”

Nelson Mandela