Naeela Green, 20, lives in Manenberg. Her story is one of triumph. She is currently pursuing an Infant and Toddler Certificate with the Montessori Early Learning Foundation, funded by the Vulamathuba Empumelelo Bursary Fund.  

Due to family circumstances when Naeela was three years old, she and her siblings were placed in foster care. Placed in different homes, this meant they were separated growing up.  

About two decades later, it may seem that history has repeated itself, but Naeela is determined to defeat all odds! In her matric year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naeela fell pregnant and gave birth to her first child.  

“My son has been placed in foster care because I cannot provide a stable home for him.” 

Talking about what the Vulamathuba Empumelelo bursary opportunity meant for her, she said: 

“It is a blessing because I know I can work hard to get my son back and better my life.” 

The bursary fund is awarded to qualifying and deserving individuals, who are from previously marginalised communities within the City of Cape Town and interested to pursue a qualification at an accredited institution of higher learning.

“We are committed to creating sustainable pathways for individuals to gain access to PIVOTAL training that enables them to be economically mobile and improve the trajectory of their lives,” said Noma-Afrika Nkwenkwe-Maxwele, Vulamathuba Empumelelo Manager.

PIVOTAL is an abbreviation for Professional, Vocational, Technical and Academic Learning. It refers to learning programmes that lead to occupational qualifications or part-qualifications.

No stranger to adversity, Naeela is determined to not only get her son back from the system but also make a difference in the lives of many young people from her community who find themselves in similar circumstances.  

“I want to especially give back to children so that they know they do not have to give up. I want them to fight for their dreams and know someone is always there,” said the assistant teacher.

“Based on my own experience, I believe I can help children. A few teachers in my life [especially my Geography teacher] managed to positively impact my life and helped me improve my self-esteem.”  

“Many children in my community often grow up quickly because of their situation at home. I want them to come to school and feel like kids and to be inspired to pursue their dreams.”  

While she hopes she can be able to prove that she can take care of her child, Naeela also dedicates her free time volunteering at a community centre and a home for young girls.  

Some of Naeela’s future plans include the following:  

  • To obtain a master’s degree in the field of education  
  • To open her own school and 
  • A shelter for young girls who are at risk.  

Her advice to people who want to study further especially young girls and women from similar communities as hers is to surround themselves with people who inspire them and never let anything hold them back! 

If you would like to learn more about Vulamathuba Empumelelo programmes: learnerships, matric programmes, bursaries, job seekers and skills programmes, and many more, visit our website or contact