By Al Qalam Reporter
When the family of Raees Jassiem (7) of Rylands, Cape Town, couldn’t afford the R8000 needed to represent Western Province in the Karate Championship at Stellenbosch in October, he set out to raise the money by selling homemade atchar, dried fruit and sauces.
By the time he had raised R3000, Raees’s enterprising spirit and true grit to succeed was picked by local media.
When Pietermaritburg-based Willowton Group heard about the young boys’ dream of taking part in the tournament – and his entrepreneurial flair and his willingness to work hard – they decided to step in and fill the balance of R5000 – required for his entry fee and equipment.
Raees had started karate at Goju Kai in Mowbray when he was just four and had worked his way up to being an orange belt by the time he was seven.
He was chosen to represent his province at the Stellenbosch tournament at the end of October but needed R8000 for his entry fee and equipment.
His mother Fazlin said that the family couldn’t afford to fund the competition but, instead of simply giving up, helped the youngster to raise the money needed by selling mugs, atchar and dried fruit to friends and family. They went on to set up a stall outside Elite Cash & Carry in Rylands.
With the help of the community, the plucky seven year-old managed to raise R3 000. It was at that stage that the Willowton Group stepped in to provide the balance of R5000 to secure his participation in the tournament at the end of October.
Willowton’s marketing executive, David Sweidan, who subsequently contacted the Jassiem family with the offer, said what appealed to the company most was the boys’ entrepreneurial flair and his willingness to work hard for what he wanted.
“The fact that he believed that, through hard work, he could achieve anything, really resonated with a company that has been doing business for nearly 50 years in South Africa. That has meant lots of hard work. As a result, we have the corporate tag line – ‘a better way of living’- and we really believe that, despite his very young age, Raees is a good example of what can be achieved through dedication and determination,” he said.
Raees’s instructor from Goju Kai, Frank Brandon, is also incredibly proud of his student who he says is learning the benefits of being self-sufficient at an early age from his mother.
He says that Raees is also part of the African Warriors of Light programme which subsidises half of his fees. This Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) was formed to help township children to learn karate as well as to help with their studies and allow them to travel to represent South Africa in karate overseas.
Brandon said that Raees has set his mind on going to Venice, Italy, next year and to the World Championship in Japan in three years’ time.
“In his situation, travel is the best tonic. It will open up his mind and is a great way for a child to spread his wings. It will be a mind shift for him,” he says.
In addition to getting plenty of support from a dojo that draws from all walks of life, he says that Raees will continue with his entrepreneurial fundraising activities and his atchar shop to help fund his future adventures.