Dear Open Doors Supporter,
Almost 5 years ago to the day, I was about to board a plane in Boston to fly to South Africa where I would be spending the summer volunteering with an organization called WorldTeach. It was my first stint abroad on my own and I was both very excited and a little nervous about what was in store. Little did I know that those upcoming months would serve as one of the most transformative summers of my life.
While teaching in the impoverished communities of Masiphumelele and Ocean View that summer, I not only met other volunteers who are now my lifelong friends but I also got to work with talented students and discuss their career hopes and dreams. Through conversations with these students, it became apparent that their limited finances posed a significant hurdle to their wish to further their education beyond secondary school. It was result of these conversations that the Open Doors Foundation was eventually born.
5 years later, I am excited to report that I will be heading back to Cape Town, South Africa once again. I have been working for the last several months in the nearby country of Lesotho with a global health organization. While my work here in Lesotho has had a different focus than my WorldTeach experience, there is one wonderful similarity: getting to meet inspiring individuals who are dedicated and eager to make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of those around them.
My upcoming trip to Cape Town will be a whirlwind 3-day visit and I am excited for all that is in store! I am planning to meet with some of our Open Doors scholars to check in, hear about their experiences at university, and discuss if there are additional ways in which Open Doors can further support them. I also can't wait to meet with Open Doors' local partners on the ground and say a big thank you. These partners have been vital in identifying promising students and facilitating the scholarship application process. Last, but certainly not least, the new batch of WorldTeach volunteers will have just arrived in South Africa and I am excited to meet them, share stories from my own WorldTeach experience, and introduce them to Open Doors and ways in which they can get involved.
As my trip draws closer, I have spent much time reminiscing about my first visit to South Africa back in 2009. With your loyal support, it is really incredible to think about how much we have accomplished together in the years since then. Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to support 15 impressive South African students in their pursuit of a tertiary education. It is a phenomenal achievement and we cannot thank you enough!
This postcard was written by Chi Nguyen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative. Chi is traveling to and visiting GlobalGiving's partner organizations in the nine countries of Southern Africa.
On Wednesday, February 19th, 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting with Antonio Gambino, one of Open Doors Education Scholarship Foundation's beneficiaries. We met and conversed at Jameson Hall, with the beautiful scenery and ambiance of University of Cape Town (UCT)'s campus as our backdrop. Antonio's intelligence shines through his conversation, his drive for excellence is most apparent. He tells me that he chose his major because it was considered the most difficult at UCT. Hearing this strong statement coming from a child of Ocean View, an impoverished community in South Africa, was indeed astounding and empowering.
Coming from the community of Ocean View, Antonio was faced with numerous obstacles in his pursuit for higher education, one of which being the unemployment of both of his parents - stints of unemployment that lasted for years on end. Antonio's talent and love for education had shone through even during his high school years and eventually led to him being picked out by one of the would-be Open Doors Education Scholarship Foundation's board members as a potential candidate for their scholarship. Antonio tells me that he is so grateful for the assistance that Open Doors has given him to achieve his dreams in education and career. With the help that Open Doors has given him, he can and is studying at Africa's most prestigious university, where he is free to chase every and any dream he ever had for himself. Here, he is no longer limited in scope and capability. Here, he is given the same opportunities as his peers. Here, he can fight for his future. Here, he is on a level playing field.
To the Supporters of Open Doors,
This winter has been one of the harshest in recent memory for the United States. Flight delays, citywide shut-downs, and record lows seemed to have happened week after week. At the same time, our students in South Africa have been enjoying their summer breaks and preparing to start the new school year. As the promise of a warm spring comes to us, the promise of another year of learning comes to them; change is in the air.
Due to your generosity during our winter fundraiser, we were able to raise enough to support one additional student for two years through our scholarship program! Together, we are working to eliminate the financial walls that hold back deserving students from continuing their education. We at Open Doors take pride in our tradition of transforming a community one student at a time.
In addition, we are ecstatic to announce the selection of four new Open Doors Scholars in 2014. These students are have a diverse set of interests, yet all share the common goal of serving and improving their communities. They are:
Lindokuhle: The first of her family with a chance to attend university, intending to study either physiotherapy or law.
Phumza: A student with conditional acceptance at the University of the Western Cape intending to study Environmental and Water Studies.
Yolanda: A student with conditional acceptance at the University of the Western Cape intending to study Biotechnology.
Neliswa: An undecided major with a strong commitment to community service.
Your donations will actively support these four students by working to eliminate the financial barriers that would have prevented them from entering university. They are reaffirmed in their choice to seek higher education and now have more time to focus on what really matters: their education and development.
Thank you all again for your continued support. It is through your donations that we are able to continue to support these deserving students and keep their dreams alive. As the seasons change the rest of the world also changes. We believe that your donations will continue this tradition of change and empower our students to make a difference in the world.
The Open Doors Team