Keabetswe Portia Khetsi is a 22-year-old from the small town of Thaba Nchu, just outside Bloemfontein in the Free State. Her mother passed away 17 years ago when she was just 5 and when her father remarried, she went to stay with her paternal grandparents who raised her. “I started school at 6 years, starting from Grade R to Grade 7 at Tawana Primary School in Thaba Nchu. I then went to Moroka High School from Grade 8 to 12. My dream was to become an Internal Auditor or BEducation as my second option but my points were not enough to apply to any University. I went to Motheo TVET College and studied Financial Management which I completed in 2018 and I am still looking for practical placement to complete my full Diploma after graduating theory Level 6 in September 2019.”
Keabetswe says the reason she decided to go into charity work was the realization of how dire the situation was at one of the schools and she just could not try to help out. In her entire 22 years, she had never seen a child go to school with a shoe that barely has any sole left on it, with a shoe lace trying to tie everything together. In 2017 she was a facilitator at Columbia Leadership Organisation in Brandwag, Bloemfontein. Her job included having to motivate, tutor and encourage school kids from different high schools in Thaba Nchu. She realized that she could do something since she had a background of working with kids and she could do better. “I started to brainstorm on how I would get school shoes and uniform for them. That is when I started to go to Twitter and post my story on #OJewaKeng and that is how thousands and thousands of people responded to it donated in numbers.
The challenge she has faced on her project was at one of the schools she was volunteering at, where the principal was not supportive enough and did not quite believe in the idea until it started to work out and help those in need. “That is the reason I left and stopped volunteering; most of the teachers where negative. Another challenge was people’s behaviour and attitude when I would approach them for donations. My other challenge is registering my own NPO and transport, because I have to fetch and deliver the shoes.
Through her work, Keabetswe has managed to help 87 children at Tshipinare Primary School, where she was volunteering, and she has collected over 106 pairs of school shoes after posting on Twitter. With the rest of the shoes left behind from Tshipinare, she decided to go to another school and identified kids who were in need.
On what makes her a woman who ROCKS, she says it’s her confidence in what she does. “I value creativity a lot and if it wasn’t for my character and being confident, I wouldn’t know how to display my creativity.
Her biggest dream is to have her NPO registered and to build or have a warehouse of uniforms and sanitary pads for girls. She also has aspirations of becoming the first young lady to have a centre in Thaba Nchu that helps young women and girls in high school.