By Monica Mynhardt
The Solidarity Helping Hand’s Study Fund Centre is one of the most important elements of the Solidarity Movement that endeavours to obliterate despair and poverty. The Helping Hand Study Fund Centre is an initiative by the Solidarity Movement, founded in 2008 with the aim of breaking the cycle of poverty through study financing for needy students to pursuit tertiary education. Helping Hand supports students through interest free study loans to study at any accredited tertiary institution in South Africa.
Any student in need who wants to study, but cannot afford it, may apply at the Study Fund Centre for financial support. Any generous person who wants to support this project can contribute to the Study Funds by making a once-off donation, an estate bequest or even by founding a new study fund. This precious investment in the future is maintained by students who complete their studies and pay back their loans to finance the next group of students.
The Study Fund Centre administers more than 240 study funds to the value of R164 million. More than 5 000 needy students’ studies have already been made possible by these study funds. In 2019, the Study Fund Centre assisted more than 1 200 Afrikaans students with R38 million. This year, the more than 2 000 donors is changing the life of student no. 5 000 to study further.
The idea behind the Helping Hand Study Fund Centre, and Helping Hand as affiliate of the Solidarity Movement, originated from the “Helpmekaar-beweging” which was founded in the early 1900s by Afrikaners. The aim of this movement then was to uplift the Afrikaner psychologically and economically, grounded in and driven by the community. Like that movement, the Helping Hand Study Fund Centre aims to preserve the hope and future of Afrikaners by giving them a chance to empower themselves.
The Mine Workers Union – the organisation from which the Solidarity Movement developed, founded a study fund in the 1960s. The reason was the small number of Afrikaners who had the opportunity to study further. The aim of the fund was two-fold. The first was to raise funds to build the former Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) in Johannesburg and the second was to create a study fund to help these students to study. At that stage, there were only two bursaries of R2 000 each available. Today, the Helping Hand Study Fund Centre plays a prominent part in the uplifting of the Afrikaner. The underlying values of that first study fund is still valid and the reach of the impact thereof is growing exponentially.
The Helping Hand Study Fund Centre funds more than just students’ studies. The Study Fund Centre offers people an opportunity to dream bigger and to grow – something they cannot manage on their own. By taking hands with this initiative, we keep Afrikaners standing so that we can build a future together.