Help South African H.S. Grads Attend College

by Christel House International
Kristen, 2010 Christel House Graduate
Kristen, 2010 Christel House Graduate

By Kristen Matthews, Christel House South Africa, 2010 graduate

“I was nine when I started at Christel House in 2002. I had already learnt the ways of hardships and poverty. My mom worked long hours and my father was unemployed, so every day after school, my brother and I ran home to fetch our baby sister from the neighbor’s house. We would juggle changing diapers, doing homework and doing our chores before our parents got home to a meal cooked by one of us.

Growing up in notorious Manenberg (a township in Cape Town), I always hoped for something better­­–­­­a big home filled with toys and happiness. But my home was no different than our neighbors’ homes, where substance, physical and drug abuse are served with breakfast, lunch and supper. Unemployment is high. Poverty greets you at dawn, gunshots wish you goodnight and drug addicts want to be your friends. But, Christel House was my safe haven.

There, everything changed. I went from unhappy and unlucky, to being the happiest and luckiest kid ever! At Christel House I was taught values, morals, etiquette, communication skills, emotional intelligence, education, happiness – everything. The journey of Christel House was precious. From being picked up in the morning, to receiving wholesome meals, quality education and lifelong values, I learned Christel House was my family. 

A Christel House teacher taught me fencing and later I became a qualified fencing coach. On weekends, I offer free fencing lessons to children in Manenburg. I also help young people from my community make decisions about their future, apply to school or find meaningful jobs, just like Christel House helps me and 190 other graduates.

I am now a final year student at university, completing my Sports Management qualification. At Christel House, not only did I learn to become independent, responsible and respectful, but I also have what I know is the foundation to living a successful life – integrity.”

Your support is helping Christel House South Africa students, like Kristen, attend college, pursue their careers and accomplish their dreams. That’s the power of your investment.

Kristen is a qualified fencing coach
Kristen is a qualified fencing coach


Danren, 9th grade, Christel House South Africa
Danren, 9th grade, Christel House South Africa

Danren, now a ninth grade student at Christel House South Africa, started attending Christel House when he entered the first grade in 2006. He lives in Cape Town with his grandmother, mother, father and four sisters. Danren believes the biggest issues in his community are gang-related violence and a lack of caring about education. There are often riots between various schools throughout his community.

Being the only boy, Danren had an early start practicing the core values taught at Christel House—respect, responsibility, independence, and integrity. “I try my hardest to apply them to my daily life,” he says. He often takes care of the house and his sisters while his mother and father are at work.  

Danren believes it is important to take advantage of the opportunities that come his way. “Whenever I’ve got an opportunity, I grab it...because I’ve learned that if you don’t grab an opportunity, it might not come back,” he says. One opportunity that Danren has utilized is the medical care at Christel House. With only having one kidney, he feels fortunate to have that service. “They take care of me,” he shared.

This fearlessness plays out in Danren’s life in other ways as well. Despite being the youngest and shortest boy at tryouts for the school volleyball team, he not only made the team, but quickly became their captain.

Danren has big goals for his future. He would like to study at a technical university and become a marine biologist. He says, “I really like sea life. With being a marine biologist, I think I would be really happy. My heart is set on it.” With the support of Christel House, along with his two sisters—who are both graduates of Christel House South Africa, Danren is well on his way to a brighter future. “Thank you for giving me everything that I need,” he says.

Thank you for your ongoing support of ‘Help South African H.S. Grads Attend College.’ Danren is one of roughly 728 current Christel House South Africa students who will have a better life because you care.

But there are many more students in need. Would you consider an end of year gift for our students? A gift to help break the cycle of poverty could be the best thing you do all year.


Odwa, Christel House South Africa Graduate
Odwa, Christel House South Africa Graduate

Odwa is a graduate of Christel House South Africa. He grew up in a hostel in Langa, living with his mother and four brothers. The home lacked necessary resources such as food and water. Odwa expresses his gratitude towards one of the hostel elders, who always ensured he had something to eat each day. Reflecting on his childhood, Odwa describes the elders’ actions as the true meaning of ‘Ubuntu,’ which means ‘human kindness’.

The feeling of Ubuntu continued to surround him from the time he joined Christel House in the fifth grade. Christel House became his family, where he felt a sense of belonging among his fellow students and teachers. At first, Odwa struggled with the English language, and at times his behavior was also in need of discipline. The support from his teachers helped him master the English language and develop a strong sense of self-esteem. Mr. Stern and Mr. Herdien are two teachers he remembers as his 'tough Uncles', who guided him along the way. 

Today Odwa operates Ndibano Tours, a professional and community-based township tour business. He has earned a growing list of accomplishments, including a tourism degree and a qualified guide certificate for the metropolitan area of Cape Town, South Africa.

Odwa aspires to see ‘...South Africa unite—becoming one, embracing the true meaning of Ubuntu; becoming a true rainbow nation that doesn't have gaps. We all have a role to play to see change happen, and I believe I'm playing my role in the tours I am bringing people together.’

Your support is helping Christel House South Africa students, like Odwa, attend college, pursue a career and accomplish their dreams. Thank you for making an investment in our future. 


Sihle, 2012 Christel House South Africa Grad
Sihle, 2012 Christel House South Africa Grad

Born in the Cape Town township of Langa to a single mother, Sihle is the youngest of four siblings. “My mom is my role model. She raised four children single-handedly. She has a strong will and stayed positive under tough circumstances, shielding us from the social ills in my community. She is my source of inspiration to do my utmost best and she is the story behind my hard work and perseverance.

When Sihle enrolled at Christel House South Africa in second grade, she spoke only Xhosa. But today, she has a powerful command of the English language and a clear vision for her future, as evidenced by her own words.

“I started off as an English interpreter for other Xhosa learners. Then I taught basic English to my mom and siblings—and even some neighbors in Langa. At Cape Peninsula of Technology, where I am currently studying Events Management, I am sometimes asked to be a motivational speaker and to emcee events.”

“Ultimately, I want to establish my own events management company and develop my personal brand. I want to share my success story with the world. My mom, my biological family and Christel House will be on my giving-back list.”

Your support of ‘Help South African H.S. Grads Attend College’ is helping students like Sihle overcome obstacles and continue their education. Thank you for helping our students pursue their dreams.


Nadine, Christel House South Africa Grad
Nadine, Christel House South Africa Grad

The Work/Study Program. The extra five miles...

The Christel House Work/Study Program is unique. While most K-12 institutions are focused on graduation, Christel House provides more. Our mission continues through career—with students becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of society. The Work/Study Program assists students for up to 5 years following graduation. By providing graduates with guidance, mentoring, and financial support as they pursue their career aspirations, Christel House helps these young adults become firmly established in the work force.

Through partnerships with the private sector and government, Christel House South Africa secures full or partial bursaries or grants for students continuing their studies. To monitor their progress, we regularly check their grades and get updates on their improvement by phone, at quarterly alumni meetings and when they return to school as volunteers. We are proactive with students to ensure they stay on track. When needed, Christel House South Africa secures mentors to provide Work/Study students with additional academic support. Christel House South Africa also maintains relationships with prospective employers to secure learnerships, apprenticeships and full time employment for graduates.

Meet Nadine, a Christel House South Africa Work/Study student

Nadine graduated from Christel House South Africa in 2013 and was one of the top students in her class. After graduation, Nadine joined the Christel House Work/Study Program and went on to study at Stellenbosch University where she was awarded a Recruitment Bursary, a significant academic scholarship.

Raised in Hanover Park—an extremely impoverished and dangerous area of Cape Town—Nadine is acutely aware of the problems that plague impoverished communities. She plans to complete a Masters in Psychology and become a teacher. Equipped with a full understanding of poverty and the tools to help stem the tide of gangsterism and drugs, Nadine wants to give back to her community through education. The Christel House Work/Study Program has helped Nadine continue her schooling and pursue her dreams. 



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Organization Information

Christel House International

Location: Indianapolis, IN - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Bobbi Bosch
Indianapolis, Indiana United States
$2,695 raised of $25,000 goal
25 donations
$22,305 to go
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