Frank is a young man who attended some of our programs for youth and children. Click below to hear how Frank turn his life around.
The video was taken by Jacques who was visiting us with ZA Foundation team from England.
THANDY: I was born in 1990 in a small village called Schoemansdal, in the Nkomazi region. I spent all my childhood years in this village. Growing up I lived with my mother and my three younger siblings, a younger sister and two younger brothers. My mother was the closest relative I knew and she was our primary care-giver. She worked really hard to provide for us.
I loved her very much and she the only person I looked up to. One day she got ill and became weaker and weaker each day until she couldn’t work anymore and I had to drop out of school to look after her. The most heartbreaking thing I ever had to experience was seeing other children go to school while I stayed with my sick mother.
When my mother died I moved into the Good Hope children’s home that was run by Thembalethu. I went back to school and pretty much everything went back to normal. Having to live in a big family has helped me to grow emotionally, meaning that I learned to empathize a lot. Knowing that we have all gone through difficult time in our lives has helped me to always want to lend a helping hand when someone goes through a rough patch.
I finished my Matric (grade –12) in 2009. In 2011 I enrolled at the University of the Free State, where I am doing a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) majoring in criminology, psychology and sociology. (note:... during Apartheid, the Free State was the most Afrikaans-centric (White) province in South Africa) .I had mixed emotions when I had to move to Bloemfontein in the Free State province. A part of me really wanted the adventure, to experience a new environment which is very different from home but, the other part of me had this strong fear of failure. What if I don’t make it? What if I stand out from the crowd? (ha, ha, ha..... I don’t have ragged clothes or something that identifies my background, but at times there is this fear that people can see what you’ve been through and judge you negatively based on it).
By the grace of God, I have managed to adapt to Bloemfontein, I have made wonderful friends ... “Bloom” is now ‘a home away from home’. Through hard work I have been selected to join ‘Golden Key’ offered to the 15% highest achievers at the university. By being a member of such a huge organization dedicated to high achievements has changed me tremendously.
A lot of people ask me why I study psychology and criminology. Well, I am more interested in the development part of psychology and juvenile part of criminology, because I believe that good behaviour is shaped at a younger age. A person’s character, when they are older, is mostly shaped by how they grew up. I have always been curious on why some children are able to pull through the ashes of life and rise for the better, while others are unable to pull through.
So I want to be giving hope and encouragement to people at a younger age, with the hope that they will get to know who they are and change for the better. I have always had a passion for children and the elderly. I want to stop any crime committed against children which, most times, goes unnoticed. And in most situations, elderly people go unnoticed or abandoned in communities. From the experience I gain while doing community service in Bloemfontein, I got to realise how lonely and sad people feel.
Going to the elderly homes in Bloemfontein, with the fear that they are old staunch White Afrikaans people who might reject me - a young Black woman -I was surprised to find them so loving and welcoming. Listening to their stories about life, sharing their pictures with me and being there, has made me realise how much they need to be around young people.
I will stop now about my future dreams because I never seem to stop one I get started, but, all in all, this is just a highlight of what I see myself doing in the next 7 years or so.
I am grateful and thankful to Thembalethu for making me realise that I am not the victim of the past. What happened to me doesn’t have to define my future. But I can determine and choose my own path in life. Without them, I couldn’t be where I am today.
(Note: Thandy received a bursary from the Nkomazi Trust which enabled her to attend university)
I was born (1980) in Mzinti, Nkomazi , where I have always lived.
I joined Youth in Action in 2003 as a youth co-ordinator in charge of Education and children’s work. In 2009, I headed up the Reclissa program “Back to School” in partnership with Khulisa (Johannesburg). It was a 3 year program and we worked with a thousand children by encouraging them to stay in school. Many have gone on to tertiary education and have good jobs. I was trained by Khulisa in Johannesburg where I met people from different SADC countries. This broadened my views of life through meeting new ways of thinking.
I ran Thembalethu’s after-school care program in 14 villages and co-ordinated the Adventure Weeks with BBC and other volunteers. I still see many of the children and am encouraged to see how much they benefit from the Adventure Weeks.
In 2008, I led a delegation of children representing Mpumalanga Province, to the International Children’s parliament in Johannesburg which hosted delegates from SADC countries. We did this through the Mandela Children’s fund and it was in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday.
I also did HIV and AIDS research with PSG in Swaziland, and in 2009, I went to Kenya on a SADC conference on HIV and AIDS . For a number of years I was a director of the Nkomazi Trust
I’m proud to have been a key influence on the youth in Nkomazi during the time when HIV and AIDS were so prevalent. I see and hear from the community of the positive impact that we had during that time.
I benefited a lot from my time with Thembalethu and I use the skills I learnt to continue to help others. For example, I work with young people from impoverished communities in Swaziland by teaching them to be self reliant as I set up a car-wash business for them and I purchased a grass-cutting machine so they can work to earn money to buy their own food and pay rent.
The Thembalethu family is a “big one” and we still communicate with each other. May God continue to bless my brothers and sisters!
I was born and have always lived in the Nkomazi region. I’m from Langeloop village.
In high school I formed a group called ‘Black Street Boys’ with three of my friends and we were invited to sing at many functions.
In 2006 I joined Thembelathu as the drama team coordinator. We used performing arts in schools to teach life-skills and about HIV and AIDS.
In 2009 I went with the first team of Ambassadors to England. This was a great, BIG experience for me. We performed at 40 shows including schools, churches, and at festivals. We taught the English children about HIV and AIDS.
I was very surprised to see that in England, there was almost no AIDS and the children had never been affected by it, and I wondered why we had such a big problem in Nkomazi. It seemed to me, that their life-styles were more focused on getting ahead in life, whereas the youth here seem to be more interested in pleasure.
I organized many festivals here in Nkomazi such as ‘Wanna-be-Stars’ and I went around scouting for musical talent. We taught about HIV and AIDS during this time.
In 2011 I joined Triad and we still continue to teach life-skills through the art of drama.
Am I very happy to see that the youth in Nkomazi are taking better control of their lives and are not messing around too much. Also the stigma of HIV has decreased so people are willing to test.
I run a DJ business where I continue to show-case the local musical talent and give the youth a chance to pursue their music careers.
Working at Thembalethu changed my life and gave me a solid foundation to build on.
Thanks Thambalethu – I’ll always be part of the family!