An MIT student who encouraged us to find a way to help with the AIDS pandemic in South Africa birthed our service in this great country.

After a few years of experimenting with different types of service in the townships, we met Edwin Smith, the Director of the Mamelodi Campus of the University of Pretoria. He urged us to focus our efforts on helping the high school learners of Mamelodi get into university since only a few students each year had this opportunity.

The Mamelodi Initiative has grown rapidly and now serves more than 1000 junior and senior high learners each year; many have been able to attend university.

American college students join us on these service-learning trips in January and mid-June through mid-July when the South African learners are on school break. One or two American college students are paired as co-teachers with one or two South African college students. This teaching team is assigned 10 learners; the subjects are English, math, study skills, and leadership skills. Pre-tests and post-tests show the progress of each learner. After lunch learners participate in enrichment activities like soccer, photography, dance, acting, and basketball.


In the evening, the America college students focus on spiritual formation in the Christian tradition. Spiritual formation is vital for service. Without reflection those who serve in areas that face some of the greatest challenges in the world will not be able to sustain their work. They will eventually burnout, but the work of contemplative activists will be sustained.

The Mamelodi Initiative requires all type of support to make its programming possible. If you would like to get involved (volunteer, make a donation, offer your skills / expertise), please email Richard Kelley at