I have lived in Senaoane, Soweto, for more than a decade now with my parents, my older sister and my brother. My father was a mechanic and was the only one working at that time and my mother was unemployed. We were living in a one-room shack at the back of an RDP house, which was owned by my great-grandmother. After her death her grandchild, who is my uncle, took over the house. In November 2010 my father got sick. Some days were better than others, yet some were worse, and on the better days he went to work. My mother tried hard to talk him out of going to work, but he would say: “If I don’t go to work I will not get paid and what will you eat and what will my children eat?” My father was my role model because of how he treated his family and because of the love he showed my mother and his children. He was as strong as a rock and he was a father that any child would wish to have.

It was March 2011 when we lost my father after three months of sickness at Bara hospital. I remember that day; I woke up in the morning exhausted after many days of studying. I was going to write my Natural Science first term test and it was around seven when my mother got a call from the hospital. She was told that my father passed away at 6am. Weeks later he was buried at his final resting place in Mpumalanga. My mother had to look for employment; it took her months to find a job with her limited education. She finally found work as a domestic worker and earned R6000 a month. It was not a lot but it was enough for her to feed her kids and buy me and her our train tickets. It was painful for me to see her waking up very early in the morning at 4 on cold winter mornings and going to the train station to wait for the train. Sometimes trains were late and she would get to work late. She started working at seven and knocked off at five.

I would worry a lot about her to the point where I would cry the whole night thinking about her. I was asking myself what if one day she doesn’t come back from work because something happened to her while waiting for the train or at work. Some days we would sleep without eating, or go to school without eating. I didn’t worry about us a lot because I knew we would eat at school with the school feeding scheme, but what about my mom? What will she eat? Where will she get the energy to do work? This broke my heart. I thought of her a lot whenever I was eating at break-time and I felt useless. At that time I was in matric and sometimes it was hard to concentrate in class with a hungry stomach before break. I would also find studying at home hard because I would wait for everyone to sleep then study late at night. During the day I would stay behind at school and study.

I wrote down in my diary that I will buy my mother a house, a car and also end the curse called poverty through education. I keep my diary with me and pray over it. After those days of learning and studying were over I wrote my final grade 12 exams and passed with a Bachelor.