Change the world


“Balancing my studies with work was not an easy journey but through hard work, resilience and expanding my support system, I have managed to be where I am today”, says Social Work Master’s graduate Siphokazi Tshefu-Mavimbela (29). 
Some of the biggest challenges she has faced during her studies was getting pregnant while she has not even started her data collection and conducting her interviews during the COVID-19 period. “The death of one of my close family members to whom I have dedicated my thesis, also affected my emotional well-being during my studies”, she says.
Siphokazi’s research explored older persons' perceptions of services that support positive aging in the Khayelitsha and Gugulethu Districts of the Western Cape. The key findings were that available services, such as clubs, excursions and social grants, do indeed exist but environmental aspects challenge positive ageing. These include unfavourable home conditions, such as financial burdens, ill-treatment, poverty and unemployment, health problems, and COVID-19 effects. 
Municipal services and care facilities are also inadequate and poverty alleviation schemes and community development projects, such as crafting, gardening, sewing, and more institutions and home-based care for older people, should be provided. 
Siphokazi currently works voluntary as a Social Worker at SAHARA, a community-based non-profit organisation in George, and manages the first 1000 days support group for people wanting to quit substances and focus on their future. 
She comes from a village called Mgqumo/Dalindyebo near Mthata. She was blessed to be selected as one of the Rural Education Access Program (REAP) scholars due to her academic performance. REAP paid for her university tuition and residence, which she could not afford. 
Initially, she worked as a Social Worker at Ikamva Labantu NGO in Cape Town as work was scarce in the Eastern Cape and after three years she started as a Scholar Coordinator at Make A Difference (MAD) Leadership foundation.
She thanks Social Development Professions’ Prof Annaline Keet for her support, the University’s Postgraduate Research Scholarships and her research participants. 
Siphokazi is married to Mzoli whom she praises for his support. He is also a social worker and working at SANCA George. In addition, he also graduated with his Master’s in Social Work last year. He graduated cum laude and is currently doing his PhD in Anthropology at Mandela University. 
In terms of the future, she might either do a course on Monitoring and Evaluation or proceed to the PhD level.
Siphokazi believes in times of life’s difficulties, “let's all be reminded of the power of our potential and stay resilient”. 

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160