Media Release | November 2, 2020
U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks visited the Diepsloot community this week, touring LEAP Science & Maths School 4 with school patron Dr. Mamphela Ramphele and founder John Gilmour. During her visit, Ambassador Marks heard from students about their education, lives, and ambitions, and shared her own inspiring vision of perseverance and potential. Ambassador Marks also announced a $25,000 (R400,000) grant to the school for teacher training, professional development, and for student fees with parents losing their sources of income due to the COVID pandemic.
In her remarks to the students, Ambassador Marks spoke about her own journey as a woman entrepreneur who started a global business from her kitchen table. She remembered her own exams when she was a student in the Eastern Cape and urged the students to work hard, believe in their own worth, and embrace their abilities. She commented, “Every one of you has the potential to be a major success story for South Africa, and I know if you study hard and rely on the guidance of your teachers, your success will absolutely happen.” Ambassador Marks added that the U.S. Mission to South Africa offers resources for students, such as the EducationUSA program, which provides free, accurate, and unbiased information about university education in the United States.
During her visit, Ambassador Marks also met with teachers, students, and parents from LEAP School 4, as well as representatives of community organizations working to improve lives in Diepsloot and other under-privileged areas of Gauteng. They spoke of the challenges faced by the community, including poverty, lack of infrastructure and resources, and gender-based violence (GBV). The U.S. Mission to South Africa has partnered with the government of South Africa on GBV prevention for over a decade, and it is an important part of our current programming. The Mission spent more than $8 million (R130 million) combatting GBV in 2020.
After her time at the school, Ambassador Marks again experienced Diepsloot’s challenges when she accepted an invitation to visit the home of a LEAP school student. Speaking with the student and her mother, who live in what was once a container, the Ambassador had the opportunity to discuss the student’s and family’s challenges and aspirations.