Lifting Dreams Soweto is about community. Soweto is located in Gauteng, South Africa and is notorious for drug problems, gang related violence and high crime rates. Within the same community live thousands of amazing talented people who aspire each day to make a difference in their community. One such individual is Khati Mabuya, South African Weightlifting Champion in the 81Kg Class. In 2019 Hein (one of our directors) met Khati (our main coach) at a weightlifting competition and saw that he had about 15 young children with him. Hein and Khati became close friends quite quickly due to their shared love for weightlifting but also for community. Khati showed Hein his academy for weightlifting he had established in his backyard. It was an uneven dirt and concrete surface where the kids were lifting rusted old weights on opposite sides of a broken washing line.
Khat started this project to keep kids off the streets and busy during the afternoons so that they would not get involved in bad crowds, but would spend their time doing homework and training so that they are tired by the end of the day and go straight to bed. Hein shared this amazing story and dream with Olympic Weightlifter and Instagram Celebrity, Sonny Webster, who called reached out soon after and Lifting Dreams Soweto was born.
Through the amazing fundraisers Sonny has hosted we were able to build a fully equipped gym, kitchen and study area for the kids. The groups of kids participating in the afternoons has also dramatically increased to the point where we are now at full capacity. We are very passionate about schooling and academic performance and we make sure all our participants do their homework before they train. We realise that not all of our kids will be able to be Olympians and professional athletes one day, however we believe they can all finish high school and pursue further education to obtain a job that can provide for their families and help them start a life outside of Soweto.
Recently Lifting Dreams has also been focusing more intently on providing academic tutoring and support to all the kids visiting the gym. As of March 2021, there are about 70 kids visiting the gym and coming for tutoring on a Saturday morning.
We will always try to build on Lifting Dreams Soweto and grow to have a larger capacity for more kids from Soweto in our program. Our next project is to build a community center out of shipping containers that can accomodate about 4 times the amount of kids we currently have with a larger emphasis on academic development. The containers will be used as classrooms where tutors and teachers can help the kids on weekends excel in their academics.