The University of Pretoria residence sub-council established a TuksRes Solidarity Fund in support of residence students who are in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairpersons of UP residences pledged house funds to the Solidarity Fund in the hopes of supporting residence students with data, groceries, and toiletries amongst other essential items. “The TuksRes Solidarity Fund is the brainchild of the sub-council for residences, led by Lara Thom and Sibo Chamane” said Lanché van Tonder, Manager of Residence Management and Student Life.

According to Van Tonder, “residences are reaching out to their alumni and others to assist with contributions to the fund. TuksRes management also dedicated pledges to the fund”.  “The idea is to help as many students as possible, but also keeping the reality in mind that it is not possible to help everyone”, says Van Tonder.

Lara Thom, chairperson of the sub-council for residences told PDBY the fund works through applications which are available online using the shorturl.at/jpxVY link. The link is available daily until Tuesday 28 April at 12:00,and opened on Thursday 23 April. According to Thom, there are 25 residences who pledged money to the fund, “it wasn’t compulsory and we approached the whole sub-council with the initiative and allowed them to decide whether to pledge or not, we also opened it to postgraduate residences as well”. The whole sub-council is involved in the marketing and communication of the fund as well as ensuring transparency for their respective residences. “The actual administration of funds is controlled by one central bank account as it quickens the process, but there are six members involved in approving the aid application and documenting when funds are sent out”, says Thom.

residences are reaching out to their alumni and others to assist with contributions to the fund…

Initially there were only residence pledges, but they have since received a few external donations from students and parents. “We are also in the middle of setting up a back-a-buddy crowdfunding with the hopes of getting more financial support externally” says Thom. The back-a-buddy crowdfunding will allow them to use the social media pages they set-up to advertise in the same way they did with the applications link. “What we are really hoping we can do is to get people to respond externally and my ultimate dream is that it gets to a company so that we can get bigger funding, because, we have within 24-hours of the link opening already received more than one thousand students who already applied and obviously we are very limited in our funds” says Thom.  She anticipates that they will make their first payments to the value of R50 000 in the week of 27 April. “We are hoping to help a number of between 70 to 80 students with this amount” she says

Hanna Dwyer, chairperson of Nerina told PDBY, “in order for our residence and the university at large to reach academic success and claim the finish line, it is imperative that this fund serve to equip students with essentials such as data for connectivity and the foreseeable online learning, groceries to ensure that they remain in good health and have at least a meal a day to carry them through and toiletries to ensure their personal comfort and well-being”. She added that the fund serves to ensure that at this point in this worldwide pandemic, residence students’ energy and focus can be on their academic success and not on the concerns of where their next meal might come from, or access to online learning resources and platforms.

She anticipates that they will make their first payments to the value of R50 000 in the week of 27 April.

Amogelang Motsepe, chairperson of House Hayani says “this fund was created by the students for the students, but it was specifically established to aid students who really cannot afford [what they need] at this time.” Motsepe added her worry is that students themselves might want to take advantage of the initiative, “such as students applying even when there is no need for them to apply but applying for the sake of abusing the system”. Motsepe is pleading with students to refrain from misusing the system and to allow the disadvantaged and needy students who are in actual need, an opportunity to get the much-needed assistance.

Rendani Tshikosi a third-year BCom Law student and resident at Morula Legae, as well as Jaryd Grobler a first-year education student and resident at House Tirisano are amongst many students who welcome this initiative. They feel “it is a great initiative” and said that residence students need all the support they can get during these trying times.

The sub-council for residences calls on everyone to assist them in their initiative by contributing to the fund by visiting https://www.backabuddy.co.za/tuksres-solidarity-fund

JAMEO CALVERT