In Nkomazi South Africa, Imagine Scholar is changing a community, one student at a time. The after school program pushes students to reach their potential, like Zinzi, who discovered a love of numbers and now teaches a class on finances to younger children.

Zinzi was a shy, quiet girl before Imagine Scholar. With her parents uneducated and unable to help her, Zinzi struggled through her homework on her own, and sometimes it wasn’t finished.

“I was afraid to ask my teacher for help,” she writes, when she thinks about her first memories of school.

Now, with the help of Imagine Scholar she has found her voice. The after school youth development program has helped to cultivate her math skills, exposing a true knack for financial planning and emboldening Zinzi’s hope to become an accountant. Their coursework has grown her confidence to the point where she now gives back to her community by teaching a small finance class at only the age of sixteen. “Most people tell me that saving money is hard when you have wants and needs to worry about,” she writes, “but I try to show that it can still be done.”

Math is just one of many of Zinzi’s interests. She has a passion for poetry, and English, and has incorporated these subjects in her small class. She helps her students finish their homework, and express themselves fully through poetry with her support. “I grew up not having someone to help me, except for my mom,” Zinzi writes. “I am going to believe in them just like my parents and Imagine Scholar believes in me.” Zinzi’s poetry has been featured by the “Global Youth Speak Out” a book soon to be published.

For her drive and spirit, Zinzi has been highlighted on the Ms. Magazine blog, as an exemplification of the power of educating girls. Zinzi showcases this power by sharing her passion for poetry, her love for her community, and her drive to reach her own potential. She is determined to change her community for the better, and with the help of Imagine Scholar, Zinzi is already doing that.

In a region that has been stricken by poverty, diaspora, and hardship, Zinzi is just one of many students that Imagine Scholar pushes to reach their potential. In the 1980s it was a place of refuge for the thousands of families fleeing the Mozambican Civil War. Before that, it was a place families were forcibly removed to during the Apartheid era. Now, it has hope for the future, and gets closer to breaking the cycle of hardship every year as students in Imagine Scholar exceed all expectations.

I encourage you to visit the website, www.imaginescholar.org, to learn more.

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