Spending a night on the street

Sea Point High School pupil Siyanda Somtsewu believes the most important thing about having empathy is giving back to those who need it the most.

Siyanda, 16, is this year’s Western Cape School SleepOut ambassador.

During the School SleepOut, pupils, parents and teachers spend a night outdoors to see what it is like for homeless and vulnerable communities. The provisional date for a SleepOut at Sea Point High School is Friday June 23.

They will also be collecting items for Heartlands Baby Sanctuary in Somerset Wet and the uMephi Project for children in Eerste Rivier.

Siyanda, a Grade 11 pupil, is happy to be part of the initiative and giving back to the beneficiaries. “The whole point of having empathy is being able to stand up and give back to the community.

“I’m excited to meet people with the same views as mine but different ways of doing it. This experience will open me up to different ways of doing things,” he said.

Siyanda was raised by his mother in Langa. He is involved in debating and cricket at school. His long-term ambition is to become an economist.

The School SleepOut is part of The CEO SleepOut, which was created by The Philanthropic Collection, a social entrepreneurship collective that collaborates with businesses to find new approaches to philanthropy. Founded in Australia in 2006, The CEO SleepOut is now a global initiative. The inaugural CEO SleepOut took place in South Africa in 2015 with 247 CEOs and senior executives.

The secretary at Sea Point High School, Jessica Fassie, said she had nominated Siyanda to be the ambassador and was very proud of him.

“It is about giving back to the community where we can. Empathy is very important, it is about looking at a person on the street, and not just seeing the person, but understanding what they are going through.”