“I turned my life around, I was a Scout”

Ronny Sekwela joined the Scouting Movement in 2004 in Khopho, a village in Tzaneen. He joined the Group which had been established by our partner organisation called Keep The Dream 196 (KTD196) as part of their children’s project. Scouting in the region is managed by KDT196 CEO Louise Batty. “I initially went to score a girl” he says with a smile. ”I didn’t get the girl but I scored my life goal instead! I was 14 years old at the time and preferred hanging out with my older friends than kids my age. I was heavily influenced by my peers and was drinking, smoking and sleeping around. The Troop welcomed me to the Group and I participated in the activities they were doing. I didn’t join that day but went home and thought about how much fun it had been to just be a child, without the added pressures. The next week I didn’t go home after school, I went to the Scouts. It was just a play thing at first but after a few years I realised just how much value it added to my life. I was able to just be a child and play instead of jumping stages into adulthood.”

A few months later Ronny attended a workshop run by KDT196. “As a member of my Scout Group I got to see the passion of the other leaders and what was possible through Scouting. When a fellow Scout pointed out that at my age I had fantastic leadership abilities, my confidence grew. So much so, that I knew what my purpose was. I wanted to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I had completely turned my life around. No more rebellion, no more desire nor time for negative things. I was a Scout, I had put the Scout Laws in my heart and was determined to practice them in my everyday life”, explains Ronny.

As a Grade 11 learner Ronny was doing well at school and thriving in Scouting. He attended the Gilwell PLTU in Gauteng. “Attending the Patrol Leaders Training Unit was another huge boost with regards to my leadership abilities. I still use the skills I learnt at that camp”, he states firmly. “In 2007 I became the Troop Scouter of the 1st Khopho Scout Troop and was asked by KDT196 CEO Louise Batty and Elizabeth ‘Zabe’ Mabuza, to assist another Group called 1st Lephepane, which was run by a caregiver for vulnerable children. On Friday you could find me at my Group and on Saturdays at 1st Lephepane. As we grew in numbers, so did the realisation of the impact I had on the lives of those children. My former friends were not pleased with my transformation and shouted that I was hiding behind Scouting. I wasn’t hiding, I was growing personally and was happy to be a positive role model to others.”

“Even though my parents were both uneducated, I was excelling academically. My mother was unemployed and my father worked at a car wash, the whole household depended on his car wash salary. I was about to write my Matric and KTD196  as well as Andrew and Sheila Tanner were so supportive! Sheila used to cut out the sample Matric questions from the newspapers and post them to me so I could prepare. I was doing physical science on higher grade and was the only person in my class that passed in 2007. It was during this time that I won the World Youth Community Building Award from Oxfam International. I was nominated by Louise from KDT196 for the work I was doing  through the SCOUTS SA HIV programme in my community and was able to receive the award in Delhi in India.

I wanted to study but needed to work and raise the funds. I took a year to work in retail, which taught me responsibility and gave me some independence. At that time Louise approached me to work with her team as a KTD196 field officer to run Scouting. I saved my stipends and transport money to register at the Tshwane University of Technology in Polokwane where I graduated with a National Diploma in Computer Science. It was a fantastic feeling to know that I achieved my goals and did it the right way, the Scouting way.”

Ronny currently works as an IT Support Administrator for MMI Holdings (Momentum) – Life Insurance Solutions, Fastlane division. “I am currently doing my Bachelor’s Degree in IT Support Services, which I will be completing next semester.