Youth Unison Kata World Championship title-holder, Edwina Boonzaaier 17, is hoping to karate chop and roundhouse kick her way to glory at this year’s 19th Kimura Shukokai International World Championship in Sweden.
But for a while, it seemed Edwina’s dream of competing on the international stage would not be realised.
It was a dream inspired by her late father, who encouraged her to take up karate a year before he passed away in 2011.
The Symphony High School Grade 12 pupil, was moved to tears when she was surprised with news of her sponsorship by CBD-based organisation, Community Chest, during a karate event at Huguenot Square Library in Belhar.
Edwina, a 2nd-degree junior black belt holder, and the team were on the verge of withdrawing from the competition due to a lack of funds.
“Words can’t describe how I felt when Community Chest said they would sponsor me. I felt happy and sad at the same time. I’m excited about attending the tournament in July and hope to inspire people through karate,” said Edwina.
In addition to sponsoring the Belhar resident’s trip to Sweden, the NGO is to assist the seven other members of the dojo with funding for the trip. Community Chest has also offered the team bursaries to complete their tertiary education, encouraging them to remain members of the dojo.
“I had plans to join the police force because I couldn’t afford to study but now I can follow my dream of becoming a forensic pathologist,” said Edwina.
Pastor David Windvogel, who heads the Samurai Karate programme, says he’s still in shock at the Community Chest’s gesture, which also includes R50 000 of funding for the dojo each year for the next three years.
“We never really had the proper equipment and need essential things like a mat and impact pads. The money we receive over the next three years will be invested into projects that will help us develop the programme and sustain ourselves in the future,” said Mr Windvogel.
The surprise formed part of Community Chest’s Siyakubona (We see you) Campaign, for the organisation’s 90th-anniversary celebrations.
Joan Daries of Community Chest said: “Siyakubona is our celebration of triumph over adversity. We would like to recognise and reward Edwina’s effort in becoming a South African champion in her chosen sport. I wish the entire team all the best in their endeavours and know they will do well.”
Mr Windvogel said he was forever grateful to Community Chest. “My hope for the future has been renewed and the positivity in the dojo is running very high. The team doesn’t have to feel embarrassed because they can’t pay. A big weight has been taken off our shoulders thanks to the organisation.”
Edwina said women need to stand up for themselves, as the world is a dangerous place. “I would like to thank Community Chest for believing in us when we were ready to give up. “