Wits Graduate On What It Took To Complete 20 Day Walk

Rural schools are known to be among the most under-resourced in the country. This is an issue that 26-Year-old Thami Manganya chose not to overlook when he walked 800km over a span of 20 days from Wits University in Johannesburg to Idutywa Eastern Cape.  

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On May 30, 26-year-old Thami Manganya decided to embark on a walk with the intention of raising R1.28 million to assist some rural schools in the province. Twenty days later, on Friday 18 June, Manganya completed his walk.

As a recent graduate who has been making efforts to find employment, Manganya had always been looking for a way in which he could do his part to benefit his society.

He said, "Rural development is so close to my heart, so I've always wanted to do something to uplift my community, but then I didn't know how to, so last year when I completed my studies I was hoping that I'm going to work this year and do something like that but I was unfortunate because I didn't any kind of employment."

I then thought of doing something so that I can have something to do during the year, like something that would benefit me spiritually and emotionally then fundraising came to mind and I thought of many ways of fundraising and was like let me think of something different that has not been done by a lot of people, something that can catch a lot of people's attention. So the walk was the final choice.

Thami also mentions that he missed home and although he was not short of money to take a normal bus trip, he realized that a walk to his home town would go a long way in assisting those in need, especially the youth in his rural community in Idutywa.

"I first thought of short distances but then I realized it won't work and it had been a long time since I went home and I was like let me also use this thing from Wits to Idutywa, not necessarily because I had no money to go home but because I also want to raise funds so that I can be able to help the needy in the village, like the youngsters from the disadvantaged family's.

I was like let me do this as a non-violent protest whereby I won't be burning any tires or any property but instead I would be trying to catch the attention of those in power such as politicians. So I did that and it went viral on a lot of social media platforms.

Which was my intention, to get the attention of people like the Mayor and maybe the president of the country, but I managed to reach the Premier of the province, so I'm satisfied that what I have done has reached the leader of the province"

However, despite having trained and prepared himself for the physical challenge that would come with the 800km long walk, Manganya had very little in the way of resources. Luckily, through viewing social media updates, people as well as companies took note of his initiative and did what they could to assist him.

On the first day, I didn't have anything. I didn't have a car to escort me or enough money for food or accommodation but I had to do it regardless because I started a journey and I only had R70 in my pocket that morning, but then as the sun went up during that afternoon I got a call from Avis telling me that they are offering a car to escort me and I felt a lot better because I was gonna do the walk without anyone next to me.

"So things had changed for the better because I was safe and had people to escort me because I had hope that when it rained or it was time to sleep I would at least use the car. As I continued I also had people who were giving me money for food because they saw what I was doing since I was also wearing cardboards around my body describing what I was doing." He said

Speaking on the non-physical side of the challenges he encountered along the way, the 26-year-old graduate says that, he had already known that by taking up the initiative, he would also expose himself to some negative feedback from critics and added that it is still ongoing.

There were also people who were negative, saying negative things and stuff but those things never changed or affected me so badly because I was prepared, I knew the fact that it was not normal to me at first I knew it was going to be worse for the second person to accept.

"So I was expecting people to say negative things, which they are still doing even now but I'm not focused on that at all because there are some naysayers but it's a few of them since the majority and the people I'm focused on in the villages, the youth and learners are receiving this message and the initiative with open arms and I'm happy about that," Manganya said

The elders are like "there's no such thing, you used the car to get here", of which I used my feet but then, unfortunately, there's no way my footprints can be tracked, but then I did walk and what is important for since I was showing my commitment to rural development

Although he could not disclose the current amount of funds that he has managed to raise so far for safety reasons, Thami admits that although he still has a long way to go in order to reach his intended goal of R1.28 million. He is optimistic that it will materialize as has spoken to as many relevant entities as he could reach.

I wanted to raise R1.28 million but then I won't lie I'm not even close to that but I have not stopped. The only thing that has ended is the walk, but the fund-raising still continues. I

Thami continues to approach the relevant people who can contribute to the cause and is still in talks with the Eastern Cape Premier's office saying, "they are still processing my request. I've been in contact with Wits University as well."

"I am also still waiting on Mbashe local municipality and still asking individuals to contribute and donate what they have because for now, the money is still low and I believe people are still going to contribute so that I can reach that goal of mine which R1.28 million," he added

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