Youth join outreach programme

Twelve young people from Mitchells Plain have been accepted to stay and learn at the Jorvan Community Outreach Student Centre.

Pupils, who struggled to keep up with their academic work at school, have found a guiding light in the form of the education programme, Dare to Stand Out.

Twelve young people from Mitchell’s Plain have been accepted to stay and learn at the Jorvan Community Outreach Student Centre in Woodlands and be a part of the Dare to Stand Out educational programme.

This was the dream of Melanie Vandayar, 52, and Brian Vandayar, 52, who started the Jorvan Community Outreach Student Centre and Dare to Stand Out programme in 2005.

They noticed that pupils did not receive the necessary support systems at school and wanted to create an environment that was conducive to learning.

Ms Vandayar, a teacher at Cedar High School, would run the programme from her classroom at school.

Pupils would be chosen to be a part of the programme for three months.

“If students show that they want to be part of the programme after they’re chosen, they will have access to tutorials twice a week and get a badge to show they’re part of the programme,” said Mr Vandayar.

If the parents consent to their children being a part of the programme, they will then have access to staying over at the centre while some pupils will only attend tutorials and study sessions at the centre in the day.

“Every child studies on their own merit which means every child will study differently or have a different way of doing their studies,” said Ms Vandayar.

“Sometimes the parents are so appreciative of their child passing that they forget to look at how the child passed, which subjects need improvement or will this pass get them into a university. If we see potential we want them to do their best,” said Mr Vandayar.

“Having three people tutor 12 students was a challenge. We have the students tutor each other considering their study patterns. They really needed to unlearn the bad study habits as the end goal is to have a good work ethic. When they attend university one day, this can make or break how they approach their studies then,” said Ms Vandayar.

They would have lock-down during exams, staying in two weeks before exams and the duration for their exams.

The couple say this is not a religious-based outreach. They are practising Christians but do not turn other religions away, said Ms Vandayar.

Their daughter, Jordan Vandayar, 22, a student at Stellenbosch University, said the progress in the pupils’ work was evident.

“When they go back home it’s difficult for them to get into the swing of things again. They also need some sort of family and support system outside of the outreach programme so that they can improve in every aspect of their lives.”

Jordan said that all the girls at the centre are her sisters and family. “I have always shared my parents. I am equally as passionate about this as they are. To see where we have come from and the impact it has made in my sisters’ lives, I can’t imagine not having that for the next generation.”

Chanté Wildschutt, 20, who has been at the centre for seven years, feels it’s their responsibility to carry on the legacy of Dare to Stand Out.

“This outreach made it possible for us to study and reach our full potential. If this helped us, why would the next person not come back again.”

“Do not be afraid to ask for help. When we walked into the centre, we were very quiet and eventually started speaking up. Do not be ashamed as you did not ask to be in the situation,” said Chanté

“We are bridging the gap between their circumstances and academic excellence. The student centre is not a shelter but a place where they can feed off their academic energy from. We are here to help the child excel and help them tap into their full ability to be determined and dedicated,” said Ms Vandayar.

Anastacia Swartz, 20, has been part of the programme for three years.

“The fact that we are here, shows that we want to break the cycle of poverty and be the best we can possibly be,” said Anastacia.

“Do not be defined by your circumstances. There is a stigma about living in Mitchell’s Plain and staying there, not being able to get out. It does not cost money, love, or anything else but it just needs inspiration,” said Ms Vandayar.

The couple fund their own programme for the students they have taken in as well as the day students.

If you would like to donate to their centre, contact them on their Facebook page and Instagram Jorvan Community Outreach or www.jorvanoutreach.com or email jorvanoutreach@telkomsa.net If parents are interested they can meet with them at the centre.