Facing the Challenges
The early nineties was a volatile time in the DRC, with violent ethnic clashes, political unrest and rioting. The economy declined as foreign support was withdrawn and the health services collapsed. Food was scarce, and people feared for their lives. That’s when Pascal Lwambwa’s parents decided to pack up, take their eight children and head south, in search of safety and a better future for their children.
Even after they arrived safely in Johannesburg, life wasn’t easy. Pascal recalls how they all crammed into a small apartment in Hillbrow, but how they were still thankful and optimistic. His father was a pastor, and he continued doing missionary work in Johannesburg relying on financial support that wasn’t always predictable. They believed, however, that they were primarily cared for by God and not people and they trusted God to provide for the family.
The Lwambwa children started going to a Christian school in Brixton that was willing to accommodate them with their broken English. “Language was a big hurdle for us to overcome. Of course, in the DRC we only spoke French, so we were challenged at school,” says Pascal. “We also didn’t have money for uniforms, so the teachers helped us look through the lost and found box, and we found some pieces.”
We Shall Overcome
Pascal finally completed high school and went on to study PR & Marketing at UJ (then still known as Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit). “Between classes, I used to teach French to fellow students and in the afternoon, I worked as a packer at the Friendly Grocer earning R5 per hour.”
After studying, he started an NGO with volunteers from his church to take food and school uniforms into George Koch township where the need was great. He soon realised that he wanted to do more and that he wanted to make a living out of helping others on a very practical level.
That’s when he started Royalty Management, to help scholars make informed decisions about their future by introducing them to sources of information and opportunities such as bursary and internship providers, career guidance experts, colleges and universities.
At the End of the Day
“I want to show young people that you don’t have to let your past define your future. I was a refugee with nothing, and I couldn’t even speak one of the country’s languages. A lot of young people today see the flashy cars, sneakers and money of the criminals in the townships and they think, ‘that’s what I want’. But I want to show them that you don’t have to turn to a life of crime or sugar daddies.” Pascal feels very passionate about reaching the youth. “I had three things that were my saving grace: hard work, education and God.”
He continues, “I’m also the youth pastor at my church, so I have lots of contact with young people on a daily basis. They don’t want to be judged or condemned. I’m only 33, so I can relate to them. There is a real need, especially in the disadvantaged areas, for guidance and to give the youngsters more than hope, to give them information, options and a plan to make something of their lives.”
Today Pascal is a busy man heading up their facilitating consultancy Royalty Management together with his wife, Annah. Their kids are very much a part of the team and together they are working hard to change lives every day.
Visit www.royaltymanagement.co.za for more.