Even though Mfundo grew up in very humble circumstances in a township home he always had an interest in learning. While at Addington primary school, at age 13 he began seeking scholarships that would enable him to attend the best secondary school possible. He utilized an internet café near school to find potential scholarship opportunities. The end result was that he was granted a scholarship to attend Northwood High School in Durban, South Africa. The scholarship provided tuition, uniforms and books, but the family was stretched to pay for his daily transport of 35km each way to and from school.
He thoroughly enjoyed Northwood High but continued his quest for an even better education. He became very interested in Crawford College, a preparatory secondary school, in La Lucia, South Africa. He wrote to the school principal and explained who he was and why it would be good for both and him and the school if he attended there. He requested that they offer him a full scholarship. The principal replied saying that Crawford College did not offer scholarships. Not to be deterred, Mfundo wrote a second letter to the principal and again requested a scholarship. The reply to the second request was an offer of a 10% scholarship. With annual tuition and fees in the R100,000 range, he knew that this school was still far out of reach.
Fuelled by determination and a “never give up attitude” Mfundo then wrote a letter to the school board which was located in Sandton, South Africa. Once again he explained who he was and why it would be of benefit to both the school and himself if he attended their school. He requested a full scholarship. The school board declined his request.
A friend simply told him to “just give up”, but something within Mfundo told him to keep trying. Deep inside he knew that he would not be matriculating at Northwood. So once again he sent a letter to the school board requesting a scholarship. This time the miracle happened. The school board granted him a full scholarship!
Through this process Mfundo gives credit to God and special people who were placed in his path to mentor and assist him. He states that, “he really felt the guiding hand of God and was taught that anything is possible and to tackle things head on”.
One afternoon while researching for debate on the internet he inadvertently discovered an article about the Magna Carta International Competition. It was an essay writing competition. He became interested, but soon discovered that the deadline for submission was midnight that very day. He could only be at school for another 2.5 hours before he had to catch his bus home. Even though he had little time to complete his essay something told him to write it anyway.
Two student winners from each continent were invited to London to present their essays to a group of academics from prestigious universities including Cambridge and Harvard. Mfundo realized that he was up against a very talented cohort. The evening before the competition all the students were busily preparing, reviewing and rehearsing their presentations. Mfundo was about to do this also when he was prompted to kneel down and pray before going over his presentation. Following that prayer he had a new found sense of confidence.
He verbally presented his essay and then “defended it” by responding to some very provocative and challenging questions from the panel of academics. The end result was that Mfundo was declared the winner of that international competition!
Mfundo indicates that politics has always been his passion and that his goal is to improve the futures of the disadvantaged in his country. He has known that in order to make a difference in South Africa he will have to have the best education possible. At Harvard he feels that he will be surrounded by people who want to make a difference in the world. He envisions that with this very high quality education that he can close the gap and minimize the disparities in his home country.
It is obvious that the Holy Ghost has accompanied, guided, directed and strengthened this young man. His drive, determination and persistence could easily have been eroded through difficult and challenging circumstances. As a result of Mfundo’s gospel-centered life and strong faith he has experienced many miracles on his road to accomplishing his goal of improving the lives of the disadvantaged in his country.
Read stories about local members using PEF to become educated:
Education for a Better Life (Elder Sitati speaks in a video)