“I’m not trying to be mean,” I told Musa. “I’m just not sure, with all the need in the country, anyone will care that poorer families can’t horse ride, even if does build confidence.”
“Because, for example, the government doesn’t have the money to pay for quality physiotherapy. They don’t even have much to help children with ADD, and kids with higher functioning autism are never prioritised above the ones who have more immediate needs,” said Musa.
“True, true, but…?”
“So you see, there is that, and horse riding has been proven to help people with mental and physical challenges. It’s like a type of physiotherapy. And you know the townships are full of children with these needs. Yet what programs there are limited and have long waiting lists.”
“And you are going to fix that?”
He threw up his hands. “I can’t fix the whole country. But I can start doing something right here, while I learn how to draw up a business plan to use in funding applications. And I’ll network, looking for donors and sponsorship.”
I looked over at the big house. “And they think this might be possible?”
He nodded. “Already talking about letting me have use of the unused land on the south side. Start up a trial programme, which is going to take time, I know that. But if it works, they said they would help introduce me to the other clubs and stables, and see if I could set up more.”
“Wow,” I said. “That’s … amazing. And here I am, not even sure what I’m going to do with my life, and you’re actually doing something.”
He picked back up the lens and started polishing. “You are doing something, right now. If this thing works, you show it to Mrs Haffajee.”
A few weeks later, the Galilean telescope was done. It was 20 times stronger than the one Musa and I had first made. With all the luck in the universe, the first time I tried it at night, I saw a falling star! I made a wish: that someday I would make an even more powerful telescope than this one.
Another star fell, and I made a second wish: that I would get a bursary to study astronomy.
“Is it working?” Musa asked.
“Oh, yeah.” Then I carefully handed it over to him to try.
The next day, I took my new telescope to school. Mrs. Haffajee was very impressed.
“Let me take your picture with it,” she said. “I want to write to Dr Soon-Shiong, a professor I knew when I was at university.”
“Why would Dr Soon-Shiong be interested in my telescope? They’ve got ones a gazillion times better.”
“The isn’t the point,” she said.
At the time I didn’t understand what she meant. But over my last few years in school, I continued trying to expand my knowledge of the universe, while attempting to build more of my own equipment. I would bring it to school, Mrs Haffajee would beam, and take more photos.
She signed me up for programmes run over the internet, had me attend lectures by people passing through town. By the time I reached matric, Dr Soon-Shiong had started contacting me, including sending an application for a bursary.
Musa’s horse therapy program was also going well. Still small, as he started with only two ponies that were calm and safe enough for a novice rider. He was training two more, but this took time, and he still had his studies to complete.
I’m not sure where we go from here, how things will change, if I really do want to go away for university.
For now, I’m going to enjoy my final year here: study hard, ride horses in the night, and enjoy kissing the lips of the young man that sees me, and whom I see too.
Tell us: Do you have a passion for something, that might turn into a career? If so, what?