Photo Credit: The Sozo Foundation
We are excited to share Lolla’s inspirational journey with The Sozo Foundation. We celebrate the wonderful things our non-YWAM neighbors are doing to impact the local community! The Foundation recently turned five years old, and The Bay Community Church has made it possible by giving the organization its full back up support from the beginning in 2011.
The Sozo Foundation is a non-profit organisation, based in the impoverished Cape Flats community of Vrygrond, Cape Town. The Foundation creates opportunities for holistic development through various key areas of Youth Development, Education, Health and Wellbeing, and Skills Development. Their vision is to see the community of Vrygrond living with dignity, purpose, and hope. They live by their motto: We help people to know they’re loved so they can love others. Our guest author for this post is Nolis Mhone, a Public Relations Intern at The Sozo Foundation.
Lolla has walked a journey with Sozo from its inception, and we were thrilled when she joined us permanently in April 2015. Born and raised in a small town in the Eastern Cape, Nelisiwe, or Lolla as we affectionately call her, moved to Cape Town in 2007 with her mother and sisters after tragedy struck her family. Vrygrond soon became Lolla’s new home, and quickly after arriving, Lolla began volunteering at the Vrygrond Library in the afternoons after school.
In 2011, The Sozo Foundation was started and began to use the library to provide after-school tutoring to high school learners from the community. Intrigued by the newcomers and the programme that they offered, Lolla volunteered her time and helped out wherever she could.
“Tutoring and extra lessons were something I needed but didn’t have access to when I was in school. I know how much of a difference it can make, so Educentre was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Lolla.
Having noticed Lolla’s passion and enthusiasm for the programme, founder of Sozo, Anton, asked Lolla what her dream was. Lolla expanded, “At the time, I was pregnant with my second child and lived with my mother. I really wanted my own space and mentioned to Anton that one day I’d love to live on my own with my kids.”
In 2012, Lolla’s dream came true. The Sozo Foundation bought Lolla a wendy house in the community as part of the Boutique Project, which assisted families in need with housing and maintenance. Lolla’s involvement in the Foundation continued to grow. She became an instructor for the Baby Kaboom and Health & Hygiene workshops held by the Lifeskills Project. “So many young mothers in the community have abortions because they are overwhelmed with the fear of caring for a baby. Many parents also don’t know how to bond with or handle their kids. That’s why I love teaching the Baby Kaboom course.”
Similarly, Lolla has a deep passion for equipping community members with the knowledge they need to live healthy lives through the Health & Hygiene course.
“People live in terrible conditions in Vrygrond, and the community is littered with pollution and waste. Through the Health & Hygiene course we try our best to give people the skills they need to prevent illness in their families.”
Lolla reflected on her time with Sozo so far, “I look back now, and I can see how much I have grown mentally and spiritually over the past few years since being involved in Sozo from assisting at the Vrygrond Library to starting my first full-time job as the Sozo receptionist and [working with] Lifeskills.” Lolla was a hands on, empowering Lifeskills instructor in equipping people in the community emotionally, spiritually, economically, and socially so that they gain self-respect, responsibility, and take initiative. (The Lifeskills project has now transitioned to Sozo Care.)
Lolla is now an Educentre Coordinator, she also helps the project manager Arlene with administrative support. Outside The Sozo Foundation, she helps out at the Vrygrond community library and provides some of the learners with the motherly figure relationship.
Lolla and the staff members conclude that since The Sozo Foundation came into the community, God has impacted many youths, who come from impoverished homes, and that Sozo not only gives them after class tutoring but time, attention, and love. Elders and youth in the Lifeskills project, who have lost hope in life, are not only taught practical skills but The Sozo Foundation models hearts with God’s word and love. Sozo collaborates with everyone to see a community transformed through God’s unconditional love.