Thousands of Maties want to make a difference

On Friday, February 1, thousands of first-year Stellenbosch University (SU) students get a chance to experience one of the core functions of the University namely community interaction.

The students, in their respective residences and clusters, will participate in some 20 community engagement projects in and around Stellenbosch. The activities will include reading programmes, sport activities as well as painting and gardening.

A number of residences will paint a 300m wall at the Idas Valley Sports Grounds in Stellenbosch and present activities at the neighbouring Bruckner Primary. Libertas and Huis Ten Bosch will present a life skills and sports day at Cloetesville Primary, while Olympus and Equité will paint a netball field at St Idas in Idas Valley. Helshoogte and Vesta will present mini cricket at Pniel Primary, while students at the Tygerberg campus will work at schools in the Delft area.

Friday’s event forms part of MAD² (Making A Decision 2 Make A Difference). MAD² is a student-driven fundraising effort which includes several opportunities to raise funds for Matie Community Service (MCS).

Residences and Private Student Organisations also use this community interaction morning to introduce their annual community engagement project to their residents.

Frist year students cleaned parts of the Plankenburg River in 2012, among others.

Mr Gareth Cornelissen, Head of MCS, says the day gives first-years the opportunity to enjoy the total learning experience. “It’s important to us that students realise that community interaction should be part of their overall learning experience. We also hope that they will come to the realisation that community interaction is about working with communities and not for them.”

Dumisani Mahlangu, a student involved in MCS projects says his involvement has been of great benefit to him. “In the past year I grew as a person and I’ve learnt other invaluable skills and attributes that any graduate would envy. I have learnt that with giving your time, you gain so much more. Volunteerism helps us to be kinder, gentle and more humane towards other people.”

Ms Michelle Pietersen, Senior Program Manager at MCS, explains: “Most of the initiatives are existing, registered One-Stop Service projects, MCS’s initiative that leads student groups in providing sustainable, effective projects in partnership with established non-profit organisations involved with deserving long-term community projects. In total there are more than 50 projects ranging from registered educational support, life skills, sports, arts and culture to primary health care.”

MCS forms part of the University’s HOPE Project, which strives to use academic excellence and cutting-edge research to address seemingly insurmountable problems in society.

Click here for a list of projects.

  • For more information liaise with Michelle Pietersen at, tel 021 808 3643 or 078 990 7981.