Christel House Senior Raises the “Black Card” Against Poverty
Wanda Matshaya loves the open gymnasium at Christel House South Africa where she practices the sport (and art) of fencing after school every day with teacher and coach, Randall Daniels.
A senior at Christel House South Africa, Wanda is determined to escape poverty permanently. “In fencing, the judge raises a black card to expel a competitor when they commit a serious offense,” she says. “I’ve raised the black card against poverty and Christel House is helping me achieve my dreams!”
No one would expect to find a world-class fencer living in poverty. But Wanda, her mother and younger brother live in one of Cape Town’s government housing complexes. Her mother works at a fast food restaurant and struggles to supply even basic necessities. “Without Christel House, my family and I would live in defeat,” Wanda says. “I’ve studied at Christel House for ten years and everyone there has gone above and beyond to give me the tools I need to win in life.”
Wanda is one of 3,300 severely impoverished children worldwide receiving Christel House’s holistic program focused on eliminating the root causes of generational poverty— illiteracy, malnutrition, disease and lack of opportunity. Christel House learning centers provide a nurturing environment in which dedicated staff provide high quality academic education, character development, life skills, nutrition, health and wellness services, goalsetting, career planning and family outreach with one goal—to transform lives and permanently break the cycle of poverty.
Her strong spirit has inspired fellow classmates so deeply that the fencing program at Christel House South Africa has grown significantly. “Our students have seen that Wanda’s work ethic drives her success,” says Daniels, who introduced her to fencing through an after-school club in 2006. “She doesn’t have the same advantages as most of her competitors who pay for training with top coaches, but that doesn’t stop her. Wanda works hard and has earned the respect of her fellow fencers, coaches and the community.” [member]
Faithfully studying and practicing her sport for five years, Wanda has garnered numerous accolades and distinguished herself as a formidable opponent. In 2010, she won the World Fencing Championship in Cape Town. With this win, she became the only South African fencer to advance to the World Youth Olympics in Singapore. While in Singapore last August, she proudly carried the South African flag during the opening ceremony and placed 11th overall. In December 2010, she took double honors being named “Most Promising Sportswoman of the Year” in the Western Cape and earning a bronze medal at the Junior African Games in Pretoria–Christel House South Africa’s first international medal. So far in 2011, she has competed in the 2011 Junior and Cadet World Championship in Jordan and recently won a bronze medal at the Senior Woman’s Nationals in Johannesburg.
Wanda will take South Africa’s rigorous national graduation exam later this year. Students in Christel House South Africa’s first two graduating classes scored 100% pass rates on the exam compared to a 65% pass rate for all students in South Africa.
“Christel House has taught me to dream big, set goals and pursue them with determination,” she says. “I have my sights sets on continuing the 100% pass rate tradition, securing a fencing scholarship and studying sports management and coaching when I go to college next year.” Christel House proudly salutes Wanda!
Christel House is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity helping children all over the world permanently escape poverty through education and personal empowerment. To learn more about Christel House and our students—and how you can help children like Wanda achieve their dreams—visit www.christelhouse.org. [/member]