“I want to grow and have an impact on someone’s life” Meet Lerato Masombuka

28 May 2016

Lerato ‘Bridgette’ Masombuka grew up in a small township of Zithobeni situated in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Brought up by her grandmother and then later her aunt, Lerato was raised in a community where young people often dropped out of school. With a desire to further her education and study languages, Lerato started a reading club for younger children in the area.

Now, at 20 years-old, Lerato is studying language practice at university and is racing the world’s oceans from Seattle to New York in the American Coast-to-Coast leg as an ambassador for the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation.

She says: “Before taking part in the race through the foundation I had no sailing experience, but I like new challenges because I take them as a chance to grow and move out of my comfort zone.”

This opportunity, funded by the Sapinda Foundation, aims to provide new personal development skills to the ambassadors so they can give back into their communities and use it to inspire others. They will be supported by mentors beyond their Clipper Race experience to help them pursue their career goals.

“My family think I am brave to do the race because I am the first one in my family and community to do something like this. Helming is my favourite role on board, the view of looking over the horizon is really nice. I think the challenge will be seasickness and finding my balance on the boat but I am going to get through it,” Lerato adds.

Each ambassador taking part in the race is helping to raise awareness and funding for innovative research into the long term effects of HIV treatment by the Ndlovu Care Group in Limpopo, South Africa, where one in five of the population is infected with the virus. During the race’s visit to the city of Seattle, the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation and Ndlovu Care Group teamed up with local HIV/AIDS project 30/30 for a fundraising evening of inspiration and raising awareness.

The project aspires to build 30 medical facilities worldwide and on World AIDS Day, its founder Julie Lewis, a survivor of the virus, became the honoured recipient of the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award.

Reflecting on the event, Lerato says: “I felt special and important that night. It helped me realise that what the race, Sapinda Rainbow Foundation and Ndlovu Care Group are doing is great. I have seen the changes already in the other ambassadors after their experience and I have noticed there are succeeding. My fellow ambassador Charlotte, who took part in the race to Seattle is a changed woman and so brave. To me, this initiative is working, it is having a great impact on our lives and I want to get something out of it and become a great woman too.

“Because sailing is a big challenge I hope that when I get back home I can face other challenges and overcome them. I think they are going to seem smaller than what I am doing now so I hope that every time something challenges me, this experience will give me the motivation to overcome it.

“I want to be a lecturer in university after my BTEC. I am going to add a year of teaching and then hopefully I will get a job in the same university I am studying at. I wanted to be a teacher because I have seen that in my community, most people drop out of school and they don’t read a lot. That’s why I joined the organisation from church to help kids after school with their homework and reading. I want to grow and have an impact on someone’s life, to be a great person in the future and finish education.”

To find out more about the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation, click here.

For more details about Ndlovu Care Group, click here.

Details about Seattle’s 30/30 Project can be found here.

To read Lerato’s latest crew diary, click here.

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