Dear fellow UCT alumni in the US,
“There are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls.” Thomas Paine, The Crisis, 1776
As I write to you from an eerily quiet New York City, I hope that you and your family are healthy and keeping safe. The world is changing before our eyes and while there will be difficult times ahead, the future will abound, as it always does, with opportunities as well as obstacles. I hope that you all, and your families, come through these unprecedented times unscathed and proud of how you rose to the challenge. And I hope that we – all of humanity – take the lessons to be learned and emerge from this stronger and wiser.
I know that many worthy causes have been pulling at your heartstrings and purse-strings over the past weeks, UCT just being one of them. Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng wrote at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closure of the University to explain how UCT was responding to the crisis, and to appeal to alumni to assist with emergency funding to help support students in need.
With generous local alumni support, UCT has been able to send students home safely and has begun purchasing laptops for needy students. UCT is very well positioned to facilitate online learning (including having a large bank of prerecorded lectures), but approximately 4,000 laptops are needed to ensure that all students, including those living in poverty, can continue working towards their degrees. South African universities are negotiating with telecommunications providers to zero-rate all university websites to ensure that students will have access to their study resources, and UCT has negotiated favorable pricing from laptop suppliers.
At the current dollar-rand exchange rate, a suitable laptop can be purchased for just $230 for a student who could not otherwise continue her studies. I have sent UCT funds to purchase 25 laptops and all other UCT Fund board members have also said that they will participate in this effort.
If you are able to, I hope you will join us in contributing one laptop (or even more if you can) to help challenged students through this crisis, so that they can continue to study, contribute and build the new South Africa. We alumni in America can make a huge difference to the lives of needy UCT students. Let’s see how many laptops we can buy together.
Head to the UCT Fund website’s donation page to make a contribution. When you’re there, please choose “Other” under Gift Designation & Recognition, indicating “Coronavirus response” in the field that follows.
From all of us at the UCT Fund, our best wishes to you and yours to get through these difficult times healthy and safe.
UCT Fund Chair