My name is Agnes Malaga. From my calculations, my mother gave birth to me when she was 15 years old. I can never be the one to judge her. When I was six years old, poverty took control of our lives at home. We used to eat porridge the entire day. I would see my mother’s eyes turn red every morning, only to realise that she had been crying the whole night. She was asking herself what we would eat, would she at least get a piece job at the spaza. Mom used to hide when Ma Molema came to our home to demand her money, threatening to kill her. We would walk a long distance to the post office to collect social grant money so that we could at least buy food.

As it is always said, life goes on and things get better. My mother met Mr Mabaso, the man I call my father today. He had paid Magadi (bride price or lobola) for her and our lives changed. Even though he did not earn much, considering the economy of that time, he did not hesitate to buy all we needed. He gave me R1, 50c each day when I went to school. I was able to buy fruit and sweets at school and pay service money on Fridays. He bought me Christmas clothes and school uniform, well even my mother did the same with the social grant money she collected at the post office.

I grew up and realised my childhood challenges made me aware that I was responsible for my future. I would remember the words of my mother, telling me how she lost an opportunity to become educated because of she was taking care of me. My mother was very strict and wanted me to focus on my schoolwork. I thank her because she pushed me to the right path.

I would always read books about how young adults changed the situation of their families with one weapon called education. I would cry because that resonated with me. I wanted to bring change, and make my parents proud. This motivated me to prioritise education. I believed becoming educated would be my freedom and my liberation from poverty.

I have to admit that people have different journeys, but I believe I have a purpose to achieve. In 2005, I was standing in front of my parents, lecturers and students wearing a graduation gown, screaming, “I made it”. All I could think of was that I was one step closer to bringing change.

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