Cash-strapped Triphin will enrol at Wits, thanks to a little help from some friends
South Africans have rolled up their sleeves and hatched a plan to send a cash-strapped matriculant with seven distinctions to university — just two days after her heartfelt plea for help.
Triphin Mudzvengi has touched hearts across the nation after revealing that she was accepted at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). But due to her family's financial constraints she was unable to enrol, reported GroundUp on Tuesday.
She had tried to obtain scholarships and bursaries but did not qualify because, having arrived in the country with her parents from Zimbabwe in 2010, she was a foreign national. This also excluded her from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
Former vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State Prof Jonathan Jansen got in touch with her after reading her story and set the ball rolling. Individuals and companies have come forward with offers to help the bright 18-year-old.
A R100,000 sponsorship towards her tuition fees for 2020 was offered on Thursday by Mukuru, a fintech company that offers financial services to under-served communities on the continent.
“There have already been offers from the private sector, individuals, private donors ... In the next few days we will know if we have enough to help Triphin over the duration of the degree, not just in her first year,” Jansen said on Thursday.
The annual tuition fee at Wits is about R149,000. Though she qualified for a R15,000 bursary as a top performer, Wits required 75% of the fee upfront before she could register.
Triphin's father is a part-time bricklayer and her mother is a domestic worker.
GroundUp reported she also could not approach the Zimbabwe embassy for help because SA's Refugees Amendment Act, signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa on January 1, forbids refugees and asylum seekers from visiting, seeking aid or communicating with their governments.
Bronwyn Pretorius, head of marketing at Mukuru, said she was touched by the story and stepped in to help Mudzvengi achieve her dream of becoming an engineer.
“When I saw the article about Triphin, I immediately felt that Mukuru should help. Mukuru has more than 2-million customers all over Africa and Asia who have left their home countries in search of better opportunities for their families. For this reason I have a small level of understanding of what Triphin's family had to sacrifice in order to leave Zimbabwe in search of a better life,” said Pretorius.
She said Mudzvengi’s story was similar to those of Mukuru's customers.
“It would have been a shame to see a bright star like her not get the chance to attend university,” she said.
Mukuru CEO Andy Jury said the company was honoured to help. “We attempt to bridge borders and fuel our customers’ dreams daily and being able to assist Triphin is very much in keeping with this,” said Jury.
GroundUp reported that Mudzvengi was a top achiever at Golf View Park secondary school in Mahikeng since grade 8. In matric she got 85% in English home language, 80% in Afrikaans first additional language, 86% in mathematics, 89% in life orientation, 86% in computer application technique, 94% in life sciences and 88% in physical sciences.
Speaking to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE on Wednesday, Mudzvengi expressed gratitude for the pledges. “I am really grateful, this is like a dream come true. I don’t know what I would be doing if it wasn’t for everyone helping me,” she said.