As the MR Foundation inspires hope in learners sit for their final exams, Jonk Mashamba, (news editor for Alex Reporter), sent a few questions to the founder member, Prayer Rikhotso, as part of finding solutions to challenges faced by learners.
MASHAMBA : Why do you think it’s important that the youth should pray before exam?
RIKHOTSO : Prayer is a way of communicating with God and primary channel to reconnect with your inner soul, which is important to rejuvenate your spirit in times of crisis, extreme pressure and difficult times often showing signs of hopelessness. The school we visited and the entire Soshanguve community needs revival and empowerment of the human spirit to rekindle their hopes and aspirations of the youth to dream of better future they can be part of. That’s why it is very important to pray for restoration of hope and revival of human spirit before the students sit for their final exams.
As an African, I know this time is critical in defining the destiny of youth in disadvantaged communities, with innocent children suffering as casualties of parents’ street feuds and stokvel battles. Some jealous parents go out of their ways to physically and spiritually suppress children in the community because their own kids have not succeeded in life– this is the time of the year when witchcraft and evil forces opposing progress manifest in several ways, with hardworking students suffering demonic attacks during exams, some students suddenly contracting unexplainable terminal illness, amongst other strange manifestations.
Therefore, this is a crunch time for students and parents to jointly pray for the exam success so that the future of the community and the country can improve – our youth today are our future leaders!
Most importantly, I must clarify that Prayer alone (absent diligent studying and showing up well-prepared for the exam) will not make the students pass, so the primary role of student is to study and write the exams, while parents engage in the prayers. In fact, that’s partly the reason MR Foundation and the School Management Team (supported by School Governing Body) hosted the prayer session at TSS, to prayerfully cover the students who are unable to actively engage in prayers this season.
MASHAMBA : Tell me about the importance of prayer?
RIKHOTSO : Prayer is not just my name, it is the flammable fuel to turbocharge your soul and rekindle the energy within you to stand and fight for yourself without losing hope, in the days of adversity, just like how the Springboks fought tooth and nail in this Rugby World Cup. If the community is in despair and losing hope, quoting Newton’s 3rd law of motion or Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell will not help anyone nor empower the youth to stand unshaken when times are tough, but we need to revive the human spirit through Prayer so that people can be emotionally and mentally strong to face their challenges head-on. Once we have lifted the human spirit through Prayer, we can then give our people practical actionable steps to remedy the situation and in case of students, share exam survival tips and tricks, study plan that can help them catch up and excel. When the car runs out of fuel, pouring in cooking oil instead of petrol/diesel will not get the car moving again – Prayer, does to people’s hearts, what petrol will do to fire up injectors in the engine of a car that stalled because of low fuel levels. The grave mistakes many people make is excess indulgence in drugs, alcohol and sex when despair sets in but all those things don’t fill our void inside and vacuum of hope but create more problems, such as addiction.
The significance of Prayer becomes evident whenever a family faces death of loved ones, even the self-proclaimed unbelievers need preachers to host prayer services to support them in bereavement, because hopelessness and despair has crept in that family, so their spirits need to be uplifted by Prayers and encouragement from the word of God. So, the hypocritical argument that downplays significance of Praying falls short of practical relevance in real life. In fact, even people who denounce God will say “our prayers and thoughts are with you in this difficult time”, because their senses awaken them to the truth and reality of the ministry of Prayer when the community is facing hopeless situations.
Why have you chosen that school? Tiyelelani Secondary School (“TSS”)?
RIKHOTSO: This is amongst the school in serious need of progressive intervention to address the social-economic fragmentation and mitigate ongoing moral decay. TSS is quite a big public high school domiciled in Soshanguve–K, a learning home to over 157 matriculants in 2023, while Grade 11 and 10 are 235 and 241, respectively. TSS also had highest number of teenage pregnancies in Gauteng since 2020 to date and has over 1,071 students in drug rehabilitation, which reflects the need for immediate psycho-social intervention. That said, TSS is certainly not the worst school by any metric but one full of untapped potential and dominated by young people who lack motivation to aim high and many students told us they are not exposed to good role models in their communities. Their daily examples of success are the untouchable street gods and ex-convicts (serial criminals, drug dealers, Heist KingPins, corrupt leaders), who never went to school but wearing expensive clothes without repeating any day – That’s why TSS is the right addition to enlist in our partner network of high schools. MR Foundation brings good role models and exemplary heroes that made it through education.
If the village heroes don’t teach young kids good behaviour, the village villains will teach them to become idiots and they’ll grow up as villains to replicate more idiots. If this status quo is not changed by empowering the youth today, there will never be walls high enough to protect us from our own kids who turned street monsters, even bicycles will need to be bullet-proofed around our communities.
MR Foundation is changing this narrative, starting in Soshanguve (Pretoria) through targeted programs that empower and inspire the youth to dream bigger than their immediate circumstances.
MASHAMBA: What advice do you have to the Matric learners?
RIKHOTSO: Passing your matric with flying colours is your golden ticket to the promised land that education can create, so put aside your financial constraints for this period, just focus on studying and preparing for your exams, there is plenty of funding opportunities for the top excellent performers out there. MR Foundation is here to connect excellent performers with funding opportunities to support further studies, once they get accepted in the relevant academic programs in higher education institutions.
Make sure you study and prepare for all your modules/subjects, even those that you don’t enjoy. Be familiar with your year mark and be mindful of the effort you are required to excel in the final exams, and then allocate your time & efforts.
Even if your year was rough and performance was bad, don’t be discouraged – you can still pass and have excellent results when you perform well in your final exams. The exam weighting is higher, so there is high chance to excel when you prepare and work harder at this time. When you struggle with certain concepts, connect with fellow students who understand it better and study together. Also reach out to educators for revision or consultations sessions, if needed.
Do your best and God will do the rest! That said, it is possible to get unpleasant results at the end and if that happens to you, don’t get discouraged – just dust yourself off and try again next year. You become a failure if you quit trying again, behind every successful man or woman you know today, their rise to success was decorated by many failures and shortcomings but we forget those failures because they devoted themselves to trying again until they achieve success.
If you struggle to break the news of failed attempt or do not know how to cope with bad exam outcome, kindly reach out to MR Foundation (email@example.com) and our dedicated team of experienced professionals will assist you with gladness and love. In fact, the Foundation would love to work very closely with you in 2024, to accelerate your turnaround and bring you back on track with your career dreams and aspirations.
MASHAMBA: When was your foundation established, who established it and what do you do there?
MR Foundation is the brain child of Mr. Prayer Rikhotso and Dr. Sthembiso Mhlanga, who are united by shared purpose to inspire the youth to dream bigger and shared vision to empower future leaders from disenfranchised communities, equipping them with skills and knowledge to lead successful lives, targeting those who, without such programs, would never have a fair fighting chance in life. MR Foundation officially hosted its pre-launch live event on 26 October 2023 in Soshanguve, themed “Arise, You’re Not A Hopeless Case.”
This is the flagship Motivational & Prayer Day which supports our first cardinal pillar of “Motivation Power-Hours”, which is aimed at;
(1) inspiring the youth to dream big, think globally and act locally,
(2) reviving the dormant dreams and aspirations of those who feel defeated by life (ultimately yielding themselves to drugs/alcoholism to numb their inner sorrows),
(3) Connect the students of today with local heroes that overcame similar conditions and broke out of the community dysfunctions to become successful professionals and industry leaders,
(4) Have the professionals and successful community heroes “Tell Their Career Stories” to show the youth that, with hardwork and diligent studying, they can make it too!
MR Foundation created this platform as part of the efforts to repackage and consolidate the youth development work the Founders carried out over the last decade to promote education and self-development, previously executed under several structures and groups (PvR Concepts, Maximum Output Institute, etc)
MASHAMBA: What does your foundation want to achieve?
Our vision: To raise community leaders who are beacons of hope and inspiration to the society; raising change leaders and destiny shapers who are exemplary role models that uplift our people out of poverty and develop the communities that raised them.
Our mission: To proactively contribute to building a vibrant, educated, progressive and prosperous South Africa by empowering the talented future leaders from disenfranchised communities, who [despite their talents but without such intervention] would otherwise never have a fair fighting chance in life, by virtue of the socio-economic divide and spatial fragmentations of the present-day South Africa.
Our strategy: “A country that does not invest in its Youth does not deserve its future”–Oliver Reginald, Tambo. The Foundation’s strategy is to uncover talented young leaders held back by shackles of poverty, invest in their professional growth and raise them as future leaders who will address socio-economic ills facing their community and world today.
MASHAMBA: Please tell me, what has prayer helped you with, in your life?
RIKHOTSO: Prayer is not just my name but it is a secret weapon of my existence and it is the master key to my unstoppable rising from zero to hero in all aspects of my life, personally and professionally. Through Faith in God and the power of fervent prayers, today I am the first-generation university graduate in my bloodline and broke many generational curses and permanently divorced myself from the shackles of poverty through the power of Prayer and I’m proud to publicly profess this truth – contrary to popular secular belief, my life today is testament of the Grace of God actuated through Prayers of my mother, my own prayers and prayers of many servants of God.
I began praying for my breakthrough when I was younger and eating from trash-bins in Johannesburg 20 years ago. Due to extreme poverty I faced daily, I was very angry at life for dealing me terrible deck of cards as there were no signs of hope for a better tomorrow, no matter how hard I worked at school or any casual “piece -job” I took up as a child. While I always worked hard, paid attention in class and diligently maintained good grades, I would always get kicked out of school from time to time either for not having school uniform and/or overdue school fees bill (it was R130 per year back then in 2005/07 but my mother could not afford it).
During the break time at school, when classmates go to buy snacks, I would go alone to sit under the tree shade, read my pocket Bible and pray that God takes away the shame that poverty casted over my childhood, daily, I prayed for a good Samaritan to come my way while I would study my books to keep my mind focused.
After months and years, God eventually answered my prayers when one of my classmate’s parents who visited the school, took me to luxury shop in town to buy me brand new uniform (i.e., expensive school shoes, quality pants and shirts) that I wore until I matriculated with distinctions. Dr Mashaba was that good Samaritan God sent my way and till this day, I can’t cease to thank God for her life, her family that welcomed with gladness and the seed of unparalleled generosity that she planted in my life two decades ago, still lives on in my heart today.
Her generous investment in me did not just restore my dignity and self-worth but also changed my outlook in life and taught me that is noble to do good to humanity even when there is absolutely no prospects of getting any favour in return.
Ms Shirilele RT, deserves special mention in this category after she voluntarily bought me underwears when the girls were reportedly laughing at my torn pants that exposed everything while I sat in class, before Dr Mashaba visited our school. These are just simple examples of when God answered my Prayers in amazing ways and sent divine destiny helpers my way. Mbhanyele Secondary school is domiciled in a village with many poorer students that did not receive these generous gifts from these Samaritans – that’s where I saw God directly answering my Prayers with laser precision.
MASHAMBA: Do you want to add something?
RIKHOTSO: Yes, overview of the MR Foundation.
As the proud proponents of education, MR Foundation NPC launched the flagship Motivational and Prayer Day at Tiyelelani Secondary School (“TSS”), (Theme: Arise, You’re Not A Hopeless Case!) wherein the team of (experienced professionals and senior university students)
visit the high school(s) and motivate the learners ahead of their mid-year and final matric examinations. Having been there ourselves, we recognize the extreme pressure and mental strain learners experience at this time, thus increasing stress levels and leaving many students discouraged to work hard for exams.
For many students, this is their only short at tasting better life and unlock opportunities to a fighting chance in life and break-free from their personal/family chains of poverty that defined their childhood to date. The weight of this massive responsibility can be too much to bear, absent any strong & proactive motivation and support structure of people who believe in them and their dreams.
We aim to share the wisdom and inspiration to empower the students to finish strong, this is their last lap of the race!
Program activities include the following, amongst others;
- Keynote/Motivational Speech of the Day
- Tell Your Story & Career Journey Reflections (featuring several professionals, including: Actuaries, Data Scientists, Engineers, Economists, Bankers, Medical Doctors, HR (Human Resource), Small Business Owners, etc). These are people who emerged from humble beginnings and today are successful, so they have wealth and depth of relatable stories to share with the high school students in disadvantaged communities.
- Exam Preparation Tips & Tricks (from Senior University Students, Masters/Honours)
- Word of Encouragement & Prayer and well-wishes before they start their exams.
MR Foundation (“the Foundation” or “MR”) is a South African NPC (non-profit company, registered with CIPC in South Africa). The Foundation is rooted within local communities for local relevance and pursues global aspirations to impact the world (with transformational Hope and Inspiration), specializing in Youth Empowerment and Personal Development through Education to uplift and raise profile of talented young people in the rural and disenfranchised communities of South Africa and broader African continent. The Foundation has the following tailored interventions as five cardinal pillars;
(1) Motivational Power-Hour, (2) Streamlined Mentorship Programs, (3) Career Coaching Programs, (4) Leadership Development (MR Bright-Minds Volunteers) Programs, and (5) Adoption of Schools in disenfranchised communities.
Members and friends of the Foundation?
The Foundation (and its social impact programs) is presently self-funded by the founding directors, who are supported by the Foundation’s Dream Team, comprising of amazing senior university students (Wits and UP for now) and established professionals across many industries (Finance & Banking, Healthcare, Legal, Academia, Engineering, Human Resource, Strategy & Consulting, amongst others) volunteering their time and resources to support the vision and mission of MR Foundation. The Foundation received voluntary financial contributions from members and other external stakeholders.
Our MR Dream Team and Friends of the Foundation presently include, amongst others:
- Mr Ntsako Baloyi, (Mech. Engineering Graduate, Data Analyst at Transnet Corporate Centre)
- Ms Prudence Gwegwe, (Educator, TSS)
- Mr Nyiko Kubayi, (Supply Chain Services)
- Mr Chavelela Mashamba, (Contracts Manager at Pangea Professional Services)
- Ms Rixongile Mashele, (Masters Student, Wits)
- Mr Musa Masingi, (Lead: Remuneration & Benefits Logistics Africa at DP World)
- Mr Rhandzu Mkhombo, (Occupational Health and Safety Consultant)
- Ms Thato Moeng, (University of Pretoria, B.Com Statistics & Data Science)
- Mr Kevin Mohlala, (Educator)
- Ms Rebotile Mokomane, (Senior Student, University of Pretoria)
- Mr Percy Mthombeni, (Business Development Specialist at Milton Resourcing)
- Mr Nyandano Netshivhazwaulu, (Rock Engineer)
- Thulani Pride Nghonyama, (Business Intelligence Specialist at FNB).
- Mr Tiyiselani Nkuna, (HR Specialist)
- Mr Mahlatse Rabothata, (Academic Advisor, Lecturer & PhD candidate at Wits).
- Mr Thapelo Sekanka, (Data Science Manager)
For more information, please contact +27 79 929 3891.