It was Nelson Mandela who said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

20-year-old Tendekai Benjamin Marata, or Ben as he is affectionately known, is the epitome of a diligent student.  After matriculating from one of the most prestigious boy’s schools in the country, Ben headed to the University of Pretoria to pursue a Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Just a small-town boy

Ben grew up in neighbouring Zimbabwe in a small township called Glenview.  He was living with his parents until they moved to South Africa in search of financial stability for the family. Ben remained in Zimbabwe where he finished his first high school course known as O Level. When he was 17, his parents decided that he should relocate to South Africa as well, and our beautiful country became his new home.

Upon arriving in South Africa, Ben had difficulty finding a place in a local school to do Grade 11.  Mandy Tyrer, who owns the popular Maritzburg Tutor Centre in Pietermaritzburg, came to the rescue and offered Ben a place to study. She has known Ben’s parents for many years and knew that Ben deserved access to a good education.

Ben and Mandy Tyrer

A wonderful scholarship for a worthy student

Ben excelled at his schoolwork and was awarded an academic scholarship to one of the top schools in South Africa – St Charles College.  Being the driven young man that he is, Ben realised that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.

When asking him about his time at St Charles, Ben only had praise for the school. He said: “I want to thank Mr Van Blerk (principal at SCC) and his staff for opening this door for me. It was awesome to be part of the school.”

Ben went on to matriculate from the school in 2019 as one of their top academic achievers – an incredible feat for the boy from the small village.

Engineering was always a fascinating subject

Ben’s excellent results earned him a spot at the University of Pretoria where he will study towards a Degree in Engineering.  He has always been fascinated by engineering and remembers watching documentaries of how airplanes are designed and constructed.  He developed an immense love for maths and physics and was somewhat surprised to find that he was actually excelling at them.  After obtaining his degree Ben wants to open his own engineering firm. It has always been his dream to start his own business and an engineering firm seems like a perfect fit for the bright young man.

“Ben is reliable, humble, determined, and a thoroughly decent young man! His work ethic is to be admired considering his financial challenges.” – Mandy Tyrer.

Ben and his proud parents

It takes a village to raise a child

At present, Ben is enrolled as a first-year student at the university.  His parents, Frederick and Grace Marata, are both car guards.  Although it was difficult, they managed to pay his registration fee. Unfortunately, their income was further impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown and they are struggling to pay his R47,000 tuition fees.  Frederick recently humbly appealed for any donation that can help his son realise his dreams.  A BackaBuddy campaign has since been created and all funds will be paid directly to the University of Pretoria.

Ben has the following – very powerful – message for the youth:

For the youth of South Africa and youth all over the world, l would just want to say, let’s keep in mind that we are the adults of tomorrow. We are the chosen generation. Whatever we do now determines what we will be tomorrow. If we fight to develop skills today, we won’t struggle tomorrow. Everything else can be taken away from a human being, but it’s impossible to take away skills and knowledge. Knowledge is indeed power.”

You will make a fine engineer, Ben. We are rooting for you!


To donate to the #ImStayingFund,
please click here:


Please submit your story to us HERE
For more positive and uplifting stories visit us at #ImStaying