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14 April 2022
UWC Community Development Student Bags National Award
They say “no good deed goes unnoticed” - Latiefa Jacobs is a testament to this. During the national lockdown when thousands of lives were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, she ensured that more lives were not cut short due to food insecurity. This University of the Western Cape (UWC) student recently received the national Play Your Part Award for outstanding active citizenship. In the run-up to the award - presented by Brand South Africa - she was also the winner of the Poverty Alleviation Award of the Year. In addition to taking first place for Poverty Alleviation in the Western Cape, she also scooped the title nationally. 

At 46, Ms Jacobs (pictured) is pursuing her four year Bachelor of Community Development degree this year in the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences. She is indicative of the calibre and diverse students  UWC has - individuals who are committed to their communities and studies. 

The Play Your Part programme has been in existence for 10 years as part of Brand South Africa's efforts to instil active citizenship in South Africa. Much of Jacobs’ prize money will go towards supporting her community initiatives. 

Her success did not go unnoticed in the press. She featured in various local and national publications such as the Sowetan, Sunday World as well as the TygerBurger Kuils River. 

Despite the acclaim, she remains humble and said the win means that “I can impart and invest in more people's lives and empower them to become active citizens of change”.

In 2015, as a single mother, she decided she wanted to be an example for her daughters. She left her corporate job and committed herself to post school studies. Despite a heavy academic workload, she found time to volunteer for various organisations on the Cape Flats. She tackled gender-based violence, court support for parents who lost their children through violence, and drug awareness. When lockdown started in 2020, she volunteered at an informal settlement in Kuils River. A year later, she graduated with a higher Certificate in Community Development from Cornerstone Institute. At the time, the informal settlement was hit hard by COVID-19, and there was a desperate need for food and support. This was when she stepped in to work tirelessly to end food insecurity. 

Jacobs is the founder of Aurorah, an organisation that focuses mainly on social development. “We want to help our neighbours connect during times of crisis. Our goal is to ensure that nobody in our community has to face food insecurity alone. Every bit helps: monetary donations towards the food kitchen, food parcels, grocery delivery to the elderly or frail, cooking or checking in virtually, connecting people who can make a difference”, said Jacobs.

Ms Jacobs has big plans for Aurorah, and their food relief programmes will continue. They also assist those who do not have proper identification documents. Other goals include a literature programme for school children, a substance misuse and referral programme, and a positive parenting skills programme for parents. 

Jacobs’ dedication proves that UWC is a breeding ground for change agents. Its students embody the vision of being an engaged institution. 

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