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Ntokoza Hlongwane I am Ntokozo Hlongwane. I was born in Ladysmith at Ezakheni Township Section E.

I attended my primary school at Sesikhona Senior Primary School and I proceeded for high school at Sakhelwe High School. I joined the YES programme when I was doing grade 11 and we were referred to as Entrepreneurs. I did not get a chance to be an adventurer when I was doing grade 8, a pioneer when I was doing grade 9 and a champion when I was doing grade 10. This is because the YES programme was not yet introduced to our school at that time. I was the Secretary for the YES Club and a Chairperson for the sub –structure team. I joined the YES programme at the critical time of my life. In 2007 when I was doing grade 11, my mom was unemployed and my father was not in my life. My father left my family when I was 3 years old. My mom used to generate income by doing the washing and ironing at my friend’s home. It was very difficult to survive school, as sometimes we could go to school without eating breakfast and knowing that even after school you will find no food at home. We were a family of four, my elder brother Senzo Hlongwane, my younger brother Mxolisi Mtshali, my mother Thulisile Mahlambi and I. My mom was earning R150 per week from my friend’s mom only when she was working during that week. My elder brother was unemployed. During 2007 poverty was severe at home, I could breathe it. The YES programme changed my life. It showed me that I could do something with my life. When YES was introduced to me by Ms Nonhlanhla Mavundla in 2007, she told us that we should engage in agricultural activities. We started planting vegetables in our school garden. I was so excited because I started to provide vegetables at home; hence the levels of hunger were eliminated. All the vegetables that we were planting at the school yard were distributed accordingly. We used to sell some, provide to our families and donate to the needy students that we identified at school. I remember the programme went so big to such an extent that we started to provide vegetables to the needy families within our township. At that time the school and the community use to provide us with seeds to plant, but now I heard that the Department of Agriculture is responsible for providing seeds for plantation in our school.

I gained so many skills when I was part of the programme including leadership skill, business skill, time management skill, communication skill, interpersonal skill, presentation skill, planning skill, innovative and analytical thinking skill, public speaking skill, research and report writing skill, teamwork skill and organisational skill. Through the YES programme I came to believe that socio-economic issues can be eliminated or reduced by young active students. These include: unemployment, crime, HIV/AIDs, piracy, prostitution, drugs and teenage pregnancy. The reason I am saying this is that when I was part of the programme I was so busy to such an extent that I could not think of anything besides my school work and the YES activities. The YES advisor Ms Nonhlanhla Mavundla played a vital role in the Club. She sacrificed her time advising and monitoring our progress. As we were not advanced with the programme, she used to consult with other advisors from other schools and come up with innovative ideas to advance our activities. Particularly Ms Sbo from Klip River high school was the main role player in sharing ideas with Ms Mavundla our advisor. The Sakhelwe high school principal Mrs Dlamini including all the teachers played a vital role in making the YES programmes a success. I completed my grade 12 in 2008. I obtained five academic excellence awards in Geography, History, Mathematical Literacy, Business Studies and Life orientation. I finished my grade 12 with five distinctions and I was admitted as a Law student at the University of KwaZulu Natal (Howard College) and I now serve as alumni for Sakhelwe High School. Because of the good results that I achieved in my grade 12, I managed to get a bursary loan (NSFAS). I am currently holding a degree Bachelor of Art in Political Science and Law. I am now studying towards my second degree Bachelor of Laws (LLB). I believe that the skills I gained from the YES programme helped me to excel in my studies. The YES programme impacted me to such a point that when I arrived at the University of KwaZulu Natal, I joined SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) which is now called ENACTUS (Entrepreneurial Action). The ENACTUS organisation has similar programmes with those of YES. I became the project manager for the project called Entrepreneurial Investment. I would like to encourage and motivate the YES members to engage fully in the activities conducted by YES. I would like to encourage them come up with creative means to expand the activities. I would like to tell them that even the sky is not the limit for them, but it is the beginning for them. They can go as far as they think they can go. In other words I would like to encourage them to think and dream big, so that they will become the best entrepreneurs of the world. As for those who are non-YES member, I would like to encourage them to join the YES programme. There are many benefits from the programme including life time skills such as: leadership

skill, business skill, time management skill, communication skill, interpersonal skill, presentation skill, planning skill, innovative and analytical thinking skill, public speaking skill, research and report writing skill, teamwork skill and organisational skill. Being a YES member changes your life and it makes you to discover things you didn’t know about yourself. Maybe you have not discovered that you have so much potential vested inside you or maybe you have not discovered that you were born a business man/woman, champion, a dreamer, a visionary or a conqueror. It may be even that you were born to change the world. Taking a decision to join the YES will enable you to discover things you never thought you were capable of doing. You will begin to notice more than you imagined about the rest of the world. You may start laughing more (you’re really quite funny) and more significantly you’ll find yourself on track to getting what you want in life. Maybe all this time you have not been thinking about what you want in life and by taking a decision to join the YES, you will be allowing yourself to think more about what you want, how you can get it and when you will get it. My passion for youth empowerment propelled me to start speaking motivationally to youth, in particular the matriculants around UThukela Districts. With this passion in mind, I decide to write a book titled “How to finish Grade 12 with Maximum Distinctions”. The book is designed to inspire, encourage and motivate high school students, especially those who are doing grade 11 and 12. The book inspires excellence both in school and in practical life circumstances. It has the potential to shape the thinking and character of a high school learner and thus producing exceptional student. It consists of key practical methods, ways and principles designed to enable a student to excel in school. My vision is to start a youth coaching company organisation that will deal specifically with: youth empowerment, motivation, small business coaching, career coaching, talent management and youth counselling. I have already drafted a business plan and all I am seeking is the sponsorship and support to commence the project. I have a strong passion for young South Africans. The name of the company organisation is: “Youth Coaching and Leadership Development” (YCLD). Thank you for affording me this opportunity to write about myself.

All I could say is that the YES programme changes lives.