by Vuyiswa Doo
My passion has always been development, specifically, people development. This stems from the many evenings spent listening to my parents, members of the exile community, and people who welcomed us in the countries where we sought refuge. The stories that inspired me most were the ones that centred on Africa’s developmental challenges and the importance of education. The role of education in development is well documented and needs no further elaboration from me. I believe it to be the key that unlocks the inherent potential in all human beings.
A number of defining moments have shaped the woman I am today. Just before I turned three, I woke up one day to find that my parents were gone. We were living in Soweto with my grandmother who was also caught unawares by the sudden change in our living arrangements. She became the guardian of my younger brother and me. My memories of this period are scant, but I can vividly recall my gran’s instructions to me after she finally agreed for us to travel with an aunt to join our parents. “Look after your brother,” she said. I followed Gran’s Instructions to the letter and to this day they form part of my DNA.
By the age of seven I had already lived in Botswana, Zambia and England. By then I had also started school, adopting new languages – English for school, Xhosa for home and Nyanja and Sotho for playing with my friends. My childhood was the perfect breeding ground for learning adaptability and responsibility. These traits together with an intrinsic respect for others informs my engagement with all.
My journey has been characterised by my identification as an African and my contribution will always be framed within this context. The Foundation’s mandate speaks directly to this and to my ultimate aspiration: Africa’s sustainable development.
In my view this cannot be achieved without sound education. The Foundation’s mandate not only allows for increased access to sound education but also aims to elicit optimal performance from their beneficiaries through their various programmatic interventions. Ultimately, the Foundation’s mandate is not just about educating individuals but about creating a cadre of ambassadors who will act as catalysts for significant economic growth in Southern Africa.
It was this vision and mandate that drew me to the Foundation. I had previously worked within local government, the private sector and in nongovernmental organisations. No matter what my role I would always end up championing people development. It was no surprise then that the Foundation’s vision and mandate drew me to apply for the position of HR Manager. I did not realise just how much I wanted this role until I actually got it. It would be a privilege if, even in only some small way, I can contribute to the achievement of this mandate.
My first year at the Foundation has been challenging, exciting and fun. Best of all is that I get to work with a lovely group of people. I must admit to feeling old at times, but I do also love that I get to share the wisdom and experiences I have gained with the next generation of Africans who are just as passionate about Africa as I am.
After hours I am proud to slip into the role of mom, wife and daughter. Besides experimenting in the kitchen, every other free moment is devoted to spending time with family and friends and savouring the delights of this most beautiful city.