Phiphidi is a big community in Venda, covered in green nature clothing to feed and sustain everyone, but none of it really matters since everyone want to blends in with technology and its lifestyle. After my grandmother’s death, life became tough, I had no one to turn to except for my careless uncle who was a taxi driver. The grieving took longer than I expected. My uncle promised me that everything was going to be fine and that he would take care of me until I finish school. After a month, everyone soon forgot about the funeral, relatives turned into strangers, nobody ever cared for our wellbeing – it was just my uncle and I. I knew that things were not going to be the same as before and I had to be an adult and look after myself at the same time.

My uncle was drinking uncontrollably; it was conspicuous that he could not heal from the pain. As they said, “When days are dark friends are few.” People distanced themselves from us, my friends turned against me for no reason. I felt the pain of rejection and loneliness. People that I called my neighbours became enemies. It did not take long for my uncle to be fired, the only source of income I had, and I knew that poverty was here to stay. Life sorrowfully turned me into a scavenger. I really felt like an outsider.

I cried so hard when I realised that it could be the end of my dreams, when I saw my peer group enjoying their youth with nothing to worry about. I cried when I realised that I was being punished for something I did not do. Whenever there was crime or something bad around the community, all fingers pointed to us. I remember during the community gathering when my neighbour revolted against us, saying that we are a bad example to the community and are useless, I broke down into tears. It is very hard to feel how hot the fire is when you are that far from away it. I did not even know what they had against us, despite the accusations everyone believed everything they were being told about us, yet no investigation were made. It was a sad life in an ignorant community.

Although my uncle was considered as a fool, he arranged part-time jobs for me during the weekends. Things were much better than before and sometimes I had to bunk school because of work. I worked at the car wash, tavern, spaza shops, and farms. There were days where I clocked off late depending on how many places I was working at. It was very tough, especially when my friends mocked me. I was known as the girl who had the same old rag clothes.

While my friends were busy showing off what their parents gave them, I was building my legacy and still today, my uncle is my role model. I am doing my second year in Pretoria. Just because you are less privileged does not mean that you cannot make it in life. No matter how bad the situation, there is still hope, as long as you are still breathing.