South Africans have become increasingly aware of the plight of poor university students who frequently, not only face unaffordable tuition but sometimes cannot afford basic necessities like food and toiletries.
This is the case for many students at the University of the Western Cape. However, recently, one student decided to step up and connect donors with those in need.
Jessica Lerm is the founder of UWC Fairy Godmother – a Facebook page which posts requests for help and funding from UWC students who are facing hardship. These requests are then answered by donors.
For her efforts, Jessica has been named December's Lead SA Hero.
But what led her to create the page?
Jessica says she realised just how bad circumstances were for some students when the lack of simple necessities led to them missing tests or class. She adds that when she saw how other students lacked basic resources, she couldn't ignore it anymore.
I couldn't turn a blind eye to this kind of thing anymore.— Jessica Lerm, Founder of UWC Fairy Godmother
She decided to found the UWC Fairy Godmother page so that students in need could send private messages with requests for help.
Jessica says that preserving the dignity of these students is a priority, so their names are not disclosed, nor are any pictures of them shared on the page. Jessica then posts the student's request to the page, linking them with donors who can contribute or send money via EFT.
The page initially started with requests for transport funds, but has since expanded. Some of the requests fulfilled include groceries, study materials, and even sanitary products.
Jessica says that the page tries to keep it university-related, but they have significantly expanded their scope to help students in a variety of situations.
But if we can help, we do it.— Jessica Learn, Founder of UWC Fairy Godmother
Jessica also notes that none of this would be possible without the donors who contribute to other students.
Thanks to our students. It's all about them. They put in the hard work and they are just awesome.— Jessica Learn, founder of UWC Fairy Godmother
Find out more about Jessica's initiative in her interview with Koketso Sachane below: