Sesi: The Chess Queen

Names: Sesi Selemolela
School: Malusi High School (matriculated in 2013)
Community Issue: Youth Empowerment
Hometown: Avon, Limpopo


Finding her second family has been a journey for Sesi. Coming from the rural farmlands of Limpopo, she saw a lot of young people without much to do, and getting into trouble. Before joining the enke family Sesi and a friend had tried, unsuccessfully, to create a dance and arts club as a way to connect and entertain her peers, as well as helping out with HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns. However, it wasn’t until the 2012 enke: Forum that Sesi finally found the inspiration and skills she need to make something really happen. It’s also when she found the people she would soon call her second family.

Fail Forward  
Her first community action project (CAP) involved setting up  a Maths and Science Tutoring Club, however the  club was not a success due to student apathy and a lack of participants.

Sesi then decided to do something she was passionate about and that was to set up the first ever chess club within  her community. She secured funding for 20 chess sets and started the Avon Chess Club, which still has about 20-30 people coming to play each afternoon – though now it’s her younger sisters who run the club. People come because they love playing chess like she does and it also gives them a chance to talk casually about their issues while having fun and learning a new skill.

In sharing her passion with others Sesi found the secret to success. Her other projects had failed to get support from more than one or two people and she was quick to give up when the idea seemed to not be working. But the chess club changed that – for Sesi, chess is a lifestyle and she “can’t give up on her lifestyle”.

A dream is born
When Sesi didn’t  know where or how to get chess sets from, found herself busy with exam, or needed help writing grant proposals, she had her principal, a teacher and her team to turn to. With the support of a fellow enke participant, Tshepo and Sesi were able to make a team of ‘chess misfits’.  Having a shared insight and having bonded over the knowledge that their quest for change was ‘unique’, the team were able to stay focused on overcoming challenges together.

Sesi is now a student at the University of Limpopo and she says that even there, she has carried the following two lessons with her:

  • Firstly, you must achieve by following your many passions and that “it’s ok to learn, change and evolve with your passions”. However, you’ve got to work hard and be patient as things happen.
  • Secondly, that it’s important to remember you’re not alone, you’re not crazy, but you have to put your ideas out there or else no one will be walking the journey with you.

In some ways finding her enke family has left Sesi more confident and optimistic, she says, “I know I won’t always get my way, but in the end it will all work out”

We want to reach 1000 more young people like Sesi by the end of 2015.  You can help us support more projects like this by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign here: http://igg.me/at/enkeMYM/x/828715 

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