“Hope begins in the dark, in the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” — Anne Lamott

Maipato Caroline Mmako


Tourism & Hospitality

Organisation / Company

University of Johannesburg


Hope begins in the dark, but if you keep showing up and doing the right thing, you will find the light. This inspirational quote has kept Maipato Caroline Mmako, 32, going through the tough times, to the point where she realised that when she has to draw on her innermost reserves, she just takes setbacks in her stride. They no longer dishearten her, but simply become part of her growth process. Maipato’s job is to prepare humanities students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) with the skills they need to transition into higher education, such as preparing for exams and learning how to think critically. She’s busy setting up an Africa by Bus expedition to Namibia for her students, with the aim of comparing UJ’s sustainability policies with those of the Namibia University of Science and Technology, and between the two countries. She’s proud of working with the Kliptown Youth Project, which encourages the youth to learn to read. She collected more than 300 books herself, and got a big kick when she saw the children diving into them. Higher education is undergoing transformation, says Maipato, and the sector is poised to challenge old policies and work with young people to help drive change.


BA (Humanities), University of Johannesburg
BA Honours (Humanities), University of Johannesburg
MA, University of Witwatersrand


One particular project I am most proud of is working with Kliptown Youth Program (KYP), where I collected and donated over 300 books for their newly-built library. This was done in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg’s library. The project was to support KYP and also to drive the agenda of teaching the youth to learn to read and love it, combating the statistics shared recently by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, which stated that most young people in South Africa struggle to read with comprehension. The books donated ensured that the library in Kliptown is filled with books for different age groups and has subjects that the youth can engage with.


Yes, my family, specifically my late parents and sister. They believed in me and my dreams so much that I never doubted that I could make it. No matter what challenges I may face, I can still get up, learn from the challenges and continue to pursue my goals and dreams.