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  • Writer's pictureRuth First Trust

A warm hug on a chilly Highveld morning

Naledi Lephuting is like a warm hug on a chilly Highveld morning. Her open demeanor, enthusiastic nature, and tangible appreciation for everything Jeppe Girls has done for her, make for a heart-warming interaction at a taut and traumatic time in our country. Which is not to say that she in unaware of what’s going on. She just chooses to focus on the positive – and the things which she can control.

“I am so grateful to the Jeppe ground staff. When I get to school at 05h30, (Mom has to be at work by 6 which is why I’m so early), the toilets are open and I can go to the Councillors room and make myself tea. We are so fortunate. Jeppe taught me time management! I am up at 04h00, meditate for ten minutes after making my bed and brushing my teeth, and then do my work once I’m at school. Luckily I am a morning person!”

“You don’t need to be good at something at Jeppe to join in.” Naledi took this to heart – and has experienced the full gambit of activities during her five years of high school. Mamela, the Flower Show, dance, tennis, cross-country, orienteering – she’s tried them all. She loved the Sports Academy with Mr. Lincoln in Grades 8 and 9 and being part of the dance troupe for the major production of Sister Act, was her Grade 10 highlight.

She hit her academic stride in Grade 11, achieving her Top 10 badge in term 3 and is determined to hold onto this accolade and achieve her full potential in her Matric exams. Making friends with Maths (thank you Ms. Gonçalves) and embracing Creative Writing (with Mr. Kentridge) have been two catalysts in her academic progress. She waxes lyrical about Consumer Studies, the indomitable Mrs. Watt and the skills she has learned in this classroom, including sewing, cooking, baking, and food and nutrition. And of course, the blankets she has crocheted over her high school years for the 67 blankets for Mandela campaigns – crochet is just so much quicker than knitting!

Over tea and cake, we talk about catching taxis, stress, self-help books, the importance of diet and nutrition, the impact of Covid, mental health and loneliness. And her faith and her love for her family: she lives with her grandmother and mother, younger brother, and baby sister – her dream is that her siblings will become part of the Jeppe family too. Compassionate and consistent, Naledi comes across as a gentle leader, someone who shows up, is reliable, and goes beyond what is expected. She is a great person to have on your team – and this has certainly been our experience of her through the Ruth First programme.

We wish Naledi every success for the second half of this her Matric year. She plans to study B Com Strategic Management at Varsity College next year – and would dearly love to work in the hospitality industry. What a wonderful ambassador for our country and our programme she is and will continue to be.

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