All discussion surrounding the transformation of Vusumzi Primary School must start with Mr. Moses Mzolisi Nqontsha.
On a beautiful November morning in 2008, Mr. Nqontsha agreed to accompany Martha T. Cummings, the future founder of Universal Promise, to the heart of Nomathamsanqa, the township where Moses lived with his wife and three children. Moses and Martha had met during the latter's stay at the game lodge where Moses had then worked for many years. That day, on the first slow pass by the woefully underserved Vusumzi School, Moses mentioned that the school educated several hundred students in Grades 5 - 7.
Back in 2008, Vusumzi School was a glaring reflection of the aftermath of apartheid. The bug-infested buildings lacked electricity, proper flooring, roofing, and suitable furnishings for the learners and educators. The route to the school was often impassable, leaving students and teachers mired in mud during the rainy season. School was frequently cancelled due to water shutdowns, and when water was available, its lack of cleanliness was apparent. Moses made sure to point out the main academic hall, which was a "temporary" structure that had stood for nearly forty years. Promises were made and broken, and that building - a relentless symbol of inequality - lived on in the center of the black township.
Moses' shame that day was apparent, yet he remained dignified. He spoke with a rare blend of honesty without anger about his township's conditions. Astonishingly, what still came through in Moses that day was hope. Despite all the years of waiting, all the unrealized promises, all the evidence of systemic subordination that still affects too many children's pursuit of fairness, Moses was hopeful. He remained a man who wanted one thing: to free himself and others from the aftershock of apartheid so that his children - Thulisa, Siphamandla, and Xhanti - would earn the kind of education that would allow them to expect better and to demand more.
Acts of decency are often smothered, however, because when systemic subordination is allowed to be nurtured, hope wavers. Moses, however, was a clear sign that hope never fully disappears: the human spirit is too powerful for that. In time, a whisper of possibility pushed against and through the weight of oppression until finally, finally, finally someone heard.
Universal Promise heard and then promised to act upon Moses' compelling whisper, and just a few years later, as a result, Vusumzi Primary School has risen UP and now stands as unequivocal evidence that change is possible when education guides the way. We are grateful to Moses for planting the seed of change and for serving as the inspiration for the possibilities that now lie ahead.