Lecisher Lee James is ten years old, she is the second of three sisters and the maturity with which she speaks is not typical for her age, surely her environment has forged her character. She likes to go to school like most Houties, there they have fun and they learn, and like the rest of her schoolmates, Lecisher knows that she needs to have education if she is to have a different lifestyle in the future than the one in Hangberg, the community that she lives in.
In the last three weeks, the inhabitants of this township in Hout Bay (Cape Town) have suffered two robberies, one of them ended with a person in emergency surgery, and that is what motivates Lecisher to fight for her community: “I want to be a lawyer; I want to go against the bad people, those who destroy Hout Bay”. However, law is not her only option: “When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer or a scientist. I have to finish school and then go to university. First I will study to be a lawyer and, if I don’t like it, I will be a scientist.”
Like other girls her age, there are some subjects she likes more than others. The reason why, is homework. “Math is my favourite subject and the one I like the least is life skills, they send me a lot of exercises and if I don’t finish them at school I have to finish them at home”. After all, she’s only ten years old.
Her daily routine is similar to that of any child in Year 3. She wakes up, eats breakfast, goes to school, eats, goes home and does her other activities. She lives with her mother, who always helps her, and with her older sister who is fifteen years old. Her little sister lives with her stepfather. When asked where she prefers to be, whether at school or at home, she answers with confidence: “It is not about where I like it best, but about where I have to be (…) at school, I learn things I will need when I am older”.
Education in South Africa is public and compulsory until the age of 15. However, differences between classes are noticeable in higher education. In 2015 and 2016 there were several confrontations between the police and different student groups because of the increase of the university fees announced by the Department of Higher Education and Training. In the end, the administration promised not to raise them, but in 2016 the same measure was proposed once again. The students returned to the streets, and on that occasion the Department pledged to cover the increased enrolment fees of students with fewer resources, students like Lecisher.
In spite of that, the demands of the youth did not stop, and last September, university students from Johannesburg marched through the city under the slogan #AccomodationIsLand to protest, this time against the rising cost of student accommodation and rent.
“I want to share everything I know and assert myself. If people respect me and follow my example, then everything will be fine”
According to El País, in 2016 the Department of Higher Education estimated that more than 200,000 South African students in large cities lacked proper accommodation. The only thing that differentiates us is the outlook for our future, because Lecisher dreams of going to university, but the economic situation of her family will be the only factor that will allow her to fulfil it: “I want to show everything I know and assert myself. If people respect me and follow my example, then everything will be fine”.
She confidently states: “I always tell my mom that I don’t want to be a lawyer because of the money, lawyers already have money. I will help people first and then I will worry about the money”. Before the end of the interview, she concludes, with a smile: “I got an “A” today“. Make a donation and collaborate with an NGO like Meraki bay so that we can continue to help children like Lecisher!