UCT three get royal honours

22 January 2015 | Story by Newsroom
Queen's winners: From left Patrice Madurai; the British consul general for Cape Town, Chris Trott; Nosipho Bele; and Emma Dicks.
Queen's winners: From left Patrice Madurai; the British consul general for Cape Town, Chris Trott; Nosipho Bele; and Emma Dicks.

UCT student Patrice Madurai (22) together with alumni Nosipho Bele (25) and Emma Dicks (25) are recipients of the Queen's Young Leaders Award, which will be handed to them by Queen Elizabeth II in June this year.

The award acknowledges the work of exceptional people from the British Commonwealth aged 18-29, who are using their skills to transform lives. Awardees receive a combination of training, mentoring and networking, which will include a one-week residential programme at Cambridge University.

Nosipho, who currently works as a teacher in Cape Town, started a mentoring programme called Mentor Me to Success, which teams up matriculants from underprivileged communities with mentors from UCT. Emma's initiative is called Code4CT and introduces high school girls to web building skills and exposes them to opportunities in the IT industry. Patrice's Cupcake ReSolution, celebrates children's worth with a cupcake party, after which each child's records with Home Affairs (for instance whether their birth was registered) are checked and documents (birth certificates/IDs) are applied for at a mobile home affairs office brought to their school by Patrice and her team.

Patrice and Emma are grateful for the acknowledgement because of the publicity it gives their projects. "In a start-up education organisation (like Code4CT) there is the constant struggle between doing good work and telling people about that good work so that they can support you. I'm more of a doer than a talker, so an award like this helps do some of the talking for me," explained Emma.

Nosipho is happy for the opportunity to finally go to London. "A group of students from my high school were meant to go to London, but only three were issued with passports. I, like many of us, never received a passport, even though I applied for one."

An answer to a childhood prayer

For Patrice, who first visited London when she was 11 years old, it is a dream come true. "As most little kids do, I tossed a penny into (the fountain outside Buckingham Palace) and said a little prayer. My prayer was that one day I'd return to London. Little did I know back then that not only would I return to that very spot outside Buckingham Palace but I'd be flown back to meet the Queen inside Buckingham Palace."

For her, the most exciting aspect of winning the award is the joy it has brought her grandparents. "My grandfather is a photographer and back in his day he was dubbed the 'Royal Photographer' because he photographed various royals and highly esteemed people during their visits to South Africa. He calls me every day and gushes about how incredibly proud he is that the queen is honouring his 'little girl'."

Story by Abigail Calata. Photo supplied.

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