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Kindness gets youngster to China on time

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NICOLA MILTZ

Today, thanks to the chesed (kindness) of the community, she is navigating chopsticks and studying Mandarin Chinese in her dormitory at the Zhejiang University of Science and Technology. Ndawana, 20, left South Africa last Friday with her air ticket, passport, and a four-year student visa in hand, and successfully enrolled on time for her dream degree in computer engineering.

Her dream almost slipped through her fingers. At the 11th-hour, when all hope seemed lost, the community stepped in and saved the day. It was orchestrated by the kindness of ChaiFM founder and Chief Executive Kathy Kaler, who wrote a post on Facebook, which was shared several times, receiving dozens and dozens of comments from people eager to help.

On Wednesday, 5 September, Kaler was chatting to Ndawana’s father, Casper Ndawana, a long-serving waiter at Michelo’s Pizzeria in Glenhazel, while she was ordering her food.

The two have known each other for some time, and were discussing one another’s children, when he told her about his pride and joy, Lynam. He explained that his daughter had received a scholarship to study at a Chinese university. It would be the first time a member of the family would have the opportunity to study for a degree.

He and his daughter had been through the rigorous online registration and visa application process, and had paid all the necessary costs involved on his waiter’s salary. Funds had run dry for the air ticket. He explained that his daughter needed to register in three days (on 8 September), otherwise she would most likely forfeit her scholarship. He had run out of options.

Kaler immediately alerted her Facebook friends about the situation. Within two days, Lynam was frantically packing her bags and getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Travel League paid for her airline ticket, and the community’s generous donations helped with various other expenses. Lynam reached China in the nick of time, and managed to register.

“I have no words to express my gratitude,” Ndawana told the SA Jewish Report this week. “I can only say that it was an act of G-d how the Jewish nation came to my assistance. My wife Lindiwe and I are ecstatic. We are overwhelmed how things suddenly turned in our favour.”

In a Facebook gratitude post, Kaler said, “We all have challenges and sometimes life can feel like a hurdle race as we jump and overcome each obstacle… But sometimes, it’s not a hurdle we are overcoming. Our way can feel blocked by a wall. And this is where we need the help of others… to lift us on their shoulders… to help us over. And you did this for one young woman. You raised her on your shoulders, and helped her over the wall.”

She continued: “To everyone who donated and shared the post, when you count your blessings, know with absolute certainty that you will be counted among the blessings of Casper and his family. Your hopes for this young woman are sending her to China. You have changed the outcome of this situation and changed her life. It takes a village to raise a child, and I feel blessed to share a village with you.”

There were numerous comments. David Katz posted: “We are all going through an extraordinarily rough time in South Africa. Goodwill has dried up, and ubuntu has disappeared with the challenges we face. The right medicine in these times is the tonic you have delivered. Go and help someone in greater need than yourself. Liberating.”

Brenda Stern, who took Lynam to the airport last week, posted on Facebook that it had given people an opportunity to “do the mitzvah of tzedakah at this time before Yom Tov”.

Ndawana said he and his wife speak to Lynam “almost daily”. Even though there is a six-hour time delay, they make sure that they hear her voice and know how she is coping.

The scholarship pays for her tuition, but Ndawana is left with hefty monthly costs of food, electricity, and accommodation. His goal now is to save money so that Lynam can buy a laptop.

Ndawana describes Lynam as “brave and smart”.

“She is target orientated, and when she sets her mind to do something, she goes out and does it. She is principled, wise, and intelligent. We are proud of her.”

In a letter to the Jewish community, Ndawana said it was at his “darkest hour” that the community and others showed him love and support. “The way that you helped me is a clear demonstration of why you’re a shining example in this world. You embody kindness, generosity, and much more.”

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