It all started in soweto
Soweto, located in Gauteng South Africa, is notorious for drug problems, gang related violence and high crime rates. Within the same community lives thousands of talented people who aspire to make a difference . One such individual is Khati Mabuya, South African Weightlifting Champion in the 81kg class. In 2019 Hein (one of our directors) met Khati 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 the 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 during the afternoons so that they would not get involved in bad crowds, but would spend their time doing homework and training. Hein shared this amazing story with Olympic Weightlifter and Instagram celebrity, Sonny Webster, who reached out soon after. Hence Lifting Dreams Soweto was born.
However, it soon became clear that the greatest need in the community was education. Our program grew organically, accommodating children under gazebos at the weightlifting club until a school in the area eventually opened its grounds to us. As of 2022, we have been running our academic development program in Soweto, Mamelodi, and Potchefstroom. We use the CAPS curriculum guideline for class preparation and aim to help children with English and math. To learn more about the program, visit the volunteer page. The gym in Soweto remains to be a home to many of our students.