Nkululeko Mabuza | SHG Project Officer & Social Worker

I started scouts in 2003, as one of the children who were on the pilot phase and immediately loved it. I was a scout for 6 years and I have made so many friends. My most precious experience was when I went to Johannesburg for PLTU Course (Patrol Leader Training Unit), we were trained on leadership skills, how to instruct and first aid. Through the training I discovered my career path, I knew right away that I wanted to work with children. After getting my Social Work degree I started working for Keep The Dream 196, I have been enjoying it because one of my deepest passions is working with children. Through KTD196 I have been given the opportunity to change and amend the National Scouts Programme for children throughout South Africa to make it achievable for children in rural and developing communities.

One of my special moments as a Social Worker was when my colleague and I were helping out at one of the school groups under Keep The Dream 196. I was in charge of the scout group (age 11-15) and it was doing well, the children were coming to the meeting and actively participating. During one of our troop meetings, a school teacher came with a young boy, looking very angry and she didn’t know what to do with the boy.

When she came to me her immediate words were “please help us with this little thief, I am tired, the school is tired and you are our last resort”. After she said that she didn’t even wait for me to respond, she let go of the child and left. Most of the children in the group started rejecting the boy as well because he was a thief and they didn’t want any of their stuff to go missing. After the 1st meeting, I asked some of the leaders in the group why they didn’t want him in the troop. They explained that the boy was a thief, he steals pens just to throw them away, he lies and he sometimes doesn’t sleep at home.

I was very worried that the boy sometimes didn’t sleep at home, I had to get more information on him. I decided to go back to the teacher who brought him and asked her to tell me a bit more about the boy she brought to the troop meeting. The teacher explained that the child was basically staying all alone, his mom had a drinking problem and his grandmother sold alcohol as well. The boy practically takes care of himself, he sometimes steals money from his mom not to use it but just to stress his mother. She never attends any parent meetings or cares about how her child is doing academically. The teacher also explained that his grades have been dropping for a while and his mother doesn’t care at all.

The following week the boy tried running away from the troop but I called him and asked him to come and he did, I told the other children that we are not perfect and should support each other. The little boy smiled and he asked if he can part of a patrol. He continued coming, he was very active within the troop and I saw how children were starting to accept him and had stopped calling him a thief. The boy started living a positive life, children who were staying next to him explained that he was always home and had started playing soccer. He was no longer stealing from his mother and would sleep at home. Through Keep The Dream 196 I have gained a lot of experience in community development, project management, training in Gender-Based Violence, and my self-confidence has improved as well.

I have also had the privilege of representing KTD196 at the International level in Thailand and Kenya working on Child Protection Policies because of my Social Work Degree. I am now also working with the World Scout Movement on the Safe Scouting Policy. KTD196 has opened up so many doors for me to grow and develop but also to influence and bring hope and change to others. The children see me and they see that they too can reach their dreams!

Another privilege I have had through KTD196 is the opportunity to travel across different provinces and also throughout Limpopo, learning about different challenges and different cultures, norms and values. I realised there is no one size fits all approach, that is why I love what I do, I am constantly learning and growing.

Interview with Nkulu

Nkululeko ‘Nkulu’ was the first Rover in the Limpopo Scout Region to obtain the BP Award, which is the highest Award in South African Rovering. I spoke to her about the role KTD196 and Scouting have had in her life and how she feels about making Rover history in Limpopo. ‘I come from a small village called Shiluvane in Limpopo.

I joined the Scout Movement way back in 2003 as a Cub when my mother Elizabeth Mabuza introduced to it”, explains Nkulu. “My mother was – and still is – part of the Scouts’ family through the partnership with local NGO ‘Keep The Dream 196’. Even though I was a child, I could see how the programme was impacting my life and so I started being fully involved in 2004. My character was developing gracefully and I realised that I was behaving differently than many other children in my community.

It was clear that I was learning a lot of things like leadership skills, self-leadership, communication skills, project management skills, perseverance, and of course pioneering – where I learned more about ropes and knots”, she says with a smile. When Nkulu turned 18yrs she stepped into adult uniform, joined the ‘KDT196’ team and started her own Cub Pack for children aged 7-11yrs, plus spearheaded the growth of Cubbing throughout the Limpopo Scout Region once she graduated from university. However, every journey has its challenges and Nkulu has encountered – and overcome – some along the way. “One of my biggest challenges was time management,” continues Nkulu. “At some point, I had to juggle academics as a university student and Scouting. I’m also a bit of an overachiever and so I tried to perfect everything that I did, even things that were beyond my control.

So that was challenging at times. But I was able to overcome these challenges by looking at the bigger picture and what I wanted to achieve. I learnt that I can do anything I put my mind to.” Nkulu remained focused on completing the activities required in order for her to achieve her BP Award.

“I was elated when I was handed my BP Award,” she says excitedly. “I felt honoured and appreciated that my hard work and dedication had finally paid off. It also boosted my profile and leadership skills. Rovering is all about service and I am so much passionate about community development and about helping children in rural communities to achieve their dreams with the little resources that they have. Some of the activities that I ran within my community included the colour run, career exhibitions, and a recycling project which was done at one of our schools” she adds.

Nkululeko is currently also the Chair of the National Cub programme in South Africa. “In addition to achieving my BP Award as a Rover, I also plan on continuing to work together with my Cub team to achieve all our goals and fulfil all my duties. Moreover, by completing the Personal Bar and Movement Bar within the Rover Programme I have learnt that values acquired in Scouting stay with you and motivate you to do more in life. “All of this was made possible through Louise and my mother Elizabeth and their vision to help orphan and vulnerable children in Limpopo by starting Keep The Dream196, and your sponsor! In South Africa, we have a saying “It takes a village to raise a child!” I hope you are happy with your investment in my life.

I am like so many others coming up behind me, I just have the privilege of being the first in our province to be awarded this award, but watch this space, more are coming through thanks to you!” Thank you so much and God Bless you Nkulu