Thick, warm and colourful with distinctive patterns best describes the blankets made by Oarabile Mashigo. Mashigo is a 22-year-old from sunny Pretoria West, and he holds a BA Law degree from the University of Pretoria. Making blankets was not always part of Mashigo’s plan; the young graduate had planned to continue his studies at the University but ran into some difficulties. “I had to drop out from UP due to NSFAS ending funding to my degree. Instead of being discouraged by this fate - my House Guardian from Tuks Ekhaya, David Raats and his wife, Nicolette Raats, taught me how to make fleece blankets,” Mashigo said.
He then decided to hone and monetise this skill which led him to start his business named Cozii Lifestyle, in the hope that he would raise enough funds to return to his studies in 2022. During this time, however, Mashigo noticed the heavy presence of economic and social issues within his community in Pretoria West, specifically with regards to unemployment and severe drug abuse.
From that point onwards he decided to not only make fleece blankets for the community but to also educate young unemployed youths on how to make blankets and scarfs. “With these skills that they are learning, young people in my community can make an income for themselves without having to resort to crime or substances,” he said.
A fleece blanket by Cozii Lifestyle.
Mashigo is an example of a young individual in South Africa doing exceptional things to further their communities. “As young people, we can no longer wait on the powers that be to improve ourselves and our communities. Each and every one of us needs to stand up and become change activators in our communities. It doesn’t matter how small your actions may be - the most important thing is to get started,” Mashigo said.
He added: “Youth month serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by young people across South African history to help create the freedoms I am enjoying today. More importantly, youth month is a call to action for all of country’s youth to stand up and chase whatever dream is in their heart because we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
Mashigo encourages other young people to follow his example and not allow adversities to deter them from reaching their goals. “My advice to people about perseverance and overcoming adversities is that God (however you understand God to be) is constantly surrounding you and making allowances for your breakthrough. So, with every single challenge that confronts you today - know that it can be overcome by putting faith in yourself and the universe that watches over you,” he said.