About Leslie Gama
Leslie Gama is a passionate community worker, driven by the desire to see change and development in the Muldersdrift communities. From his childhood Leslie was surrounded by landlessness and poverty, which inspired him to start Umnotho.
Leslie grew up in Muldersdrift with 4 other siblings, raised by a single mother who was a domestic worker and couldn't afford to provide a decent home for the family.
His first home was a mud-house built by his grandparents on a farm they were employed for 37 years. When his grandparents died, there was no one to work for accommodation and the family was evicted. Leslie was 7 years when they were chased away from the farm.
Leslie's second home was a rented horse-stable, which the family occupied for 7 years. Again the family was evicted when a townhouse development was approved on the land.
The next home was a rented chicken-house where the family lived for 15 years. In all these places there was no running water or electricity, and the families had to dig their own pit toilets.
Even as a child Leslie helped to provide for the family. He worked at a horse farm cleaning stables and in a chicken farm where he was paid with a tray of eggs.
Leslie completed his matric from Matla Combined School. With no funds to further his education, Leslie worked as a gardener and on construction sites.
In 2002 Leslie started an Adult Basic Education & Training (ABET) Center where he was teaching adults basic literacy and numeracy. In 2003 the school became part of the ABET programme by UNISA and SANLI.
Leslie also joined the Mogale City Youth Forums and the ANC Youth League, which helped to shape his awareness on issues of social and spatial injustices.
Driven by this awareness, Leslie enrolled with UNISA for a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies. With a candle at night Leslie studied until completing his degree.
In 2007 Leslie started working for the then Gauteng Department of Housing and Local Government as a Community Development Worker and focused on starting community projects. Some of the projects include the Mohau Pre-School, which today accommodates 130 children, and Thabang Lephele Oganisation, which feeds 300 orphans and vulnerable children.
In 2009 Leslie founded Umnotho with the desire to focus on projects that will empower communities.
In 2012, feeling the need to work closely with communities, Leslie resigned from government to join the Lanseria Development Center and to build Umnotho.
Umnotho today managed to buy 32+ hectares of land, employs 15 full-time staff members and mobilised the community to raise R20 million on their own. Viva Umnotho!