I’m from a small town in Mpumalanga called Acornhoek. I don’t know if you have heard of it but there isn’t a lot going on in our town, except for the fact that we are close to the Kruger National Park. Acornhoek is that type of society where there are all types of classes; the lower class, the middle class, and a few of the higher class.
I am currently 15 and doing my Grade 10 at Lekete Secondary School (L.S.S). I have always wanted an escape from home, even if it’s for a day. So one day this girl, Tshegofatso, who was in the same class with me since Grade 8, came up to me and gave me an application form.
“Hey I have something for you,” she said.
“What is it?” I asked.
“An application form for extra Saturday classes for girls only,” she replied.
She went on explaining how it helped her improve her math and science, and also her view of things in life. She also told me that if I was lucky, I might even get a scholarship to a Model C school. Who would say no to that? I applied, attached all of my current report cards and everything required. I got accepted into the programme the following year.
As I said, my town isn’t big at all and I find it to be uncivilized. In some of our communities, the civil liberties of girls are deprived due to the elders still thinking that boys are the ones worth schooling and getting all the optimal opportunities. Besides from that, if a girl gets the opportunity to go to school, they are likely to be told to go and study medicine, law or engineering.
“Ke mo go nalego masheleng ngwanaka, those are the departments where they make money my child,” they would say. Not to be disrespectful or anything, but that is just a big fat lie.
Now that you know the situation we are in, I’m sure you now know the reason why most of us girls persevere in the programme. By the end of the year I graduated with the ones who were doing their second year, because of my attendance. So we, the graduates, were only six and were chosen to go to Joburg for a week.
Excitement built up in my body as the months passed by, until the 9th of July, 2007. You know how excitement works, especially when you are going to a trip, you try to sleep but you can’t because you wake after every hour. I’m sure most of you are asking yourselves what’s all the fuss about? Well, the only tall buildings we see are the ones in Nelspruit and I wouldn’t say they are tall, they are just medium sized compared to the ones in Joburg. Plus, some of us barely go to Nelspruit because of the expensive transportation.
Well, as I said, that Monday morning we started our journey to Joburg. It wasn’t my first time going to Jo’burg, but because I was excited, I had my eyes wide open until we arrived. We were staying at this huge one story house, and were welcomed really warmly by this nice lady, Carol, her husband and her son Alexander.
The next day we were off to Maropeng at The Cradle of Human Kind, and then went to Monte Casino. The following day we went to the Science Museum, Sci-BONO, then after the fun experience we went to Goldreef City where we had ecstatic moments. All the rides were to die for, well for me because I am an adrenaline junkie. Now that we had all the fun and educational tours of Joburg, it was time to meet people who once suffered from what we were still trying to escape.
We left early on Thursday to Sandton. We arrived at Peregrine (one of the companies which sponsor our programme), a huge building, a ‘skyscraper’. We got in and went to one of their boardrooms .Then one by one came the ladies who worked there. They told us their background stories, how they got where they are now and how they did not let anyone get in their way. After that we were off to Old Mutual, where we did the same thing. Everything that was said by the ladies was really genuine, we could relate to what they have gone through.
Travelling changed my perspective of things, mostly the generosity. Generosity for me is Dr Wendy, Miss Penelope and Mrs Nthabiseng, for taking us to the trip. Generosity is Mrs Carol and her family for hosting us with all their love. Generosity is all the ladies at Peregrine and Old Mutual for sharing their stories with us and buying us the school stationery we couldn’t afford. Generosity is my family for not holding me back. Generosity is the woman at Maropeng who smiled at us all the time.
I quote: “Travel, see what the world has got for you, be yourself and always remember your roots.”
And yes indeed, all the ladies I met were right; this experience has already made a difference in my life. Now I know I don’t want to be someone who walks away so easily. But someone who is here to stay and make the difference I can make, no matter what people say about me. I am going to coax my dreams.