Mzwakhe Bolotina wants to be part of the solution. Picture: Supplied
Mzwakhe Bolotina lost his mother at the age of nine and instead of allowing his hardships to knock him down, they have inspired him to ensure that no other child in his neighbourhood has to go hungry.
Having very little himself didn’t deter Bolotina, and through sheer determination the 16-year-old has created a food collection project, which he initiated to feed children who are not fortunate enough to have a daily meal.
Bolotina says he saw the need to start a project that will help other young people who experience what he had experienced during his childhood.
He started collecting food donations and distributing them to local orphanages across Gauteng, and the Boitumelo Food Parcel Foundation has so far managed to feed 300 children per month since the beginning of the year.
“The way I grew up inspired me to want to help others. My mother died when I was nine years old and since then I knew how it feels to sleep without having food, and even feel the pain of not having a mother.
“My family ill-treated me and took everything that belongs to me. I know hunger and I want to be part of the solution,” Bolotina said.
He is currently in Grade 10 at Mosupatsela Secondary School in Kagiso, Krugersdorp, and somehow manages to make time in between his schoolwork and attending to the project.
“I told myself that the sky is the limit. Nobody can break me, and I do manage to share time between school and for building myself as an individual. I donate food parcels with the help of the community members. My father also supports me,” Bolotina said.
A young, driven, motivated and “ambitious boy” as he calls himself, Mzwakhe is also an LGBTIQ+ activist, who is proud to be different despite the barriers he comes across at school and at home from homophobic people.
“My father supports me, and he has accepted me for who I am. He understands that I didn’t choose to be different. I was born like this,” he said.
He believes that some members of society don’t understand about being gay and he appealed for more respect from society.
“The homophobic people in society will always be there and calling us names. There is one guy who always calls me Beyoncé when I go to the shop.
“But it is okay because my family supports me and we have accepted that society will not always understand us. We need to educate people who still believe that being gay is inhuman,” said Bolotina.
To expand his project, he recently partnered with the Boitumelo Naligugulethu Foundation.
“In a journey of helping orphanages with food, we discovered many problems that need our attention.
“Partnering with people is the start of expanding and opening doors for the community at large that needs help.”
Mzwakhe is passionate about modelling and television presenting.
As if he didn’t have enough on his plate already, he is now also a finalist in the Mr Kagiso beauty pageant. He believes that modelling will open doors and bigger opportunities for him.
“I see myself as a runway king, advertising clothes for big brands,” he said.
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