Facing the Challenges

Precious knew she had reached the lowest point in her life when she had to beg at street corners. She walked all the way from Woodstock to Rondebosch, knocking on doors in the hope of finding some food or maybe a job.

Nothing seemed to work out from the day she arrived in Cape Town from her rural hometown near Butterworth in the Eastern Cape. She was living in a shack with her boyfriend (who was also jobless at the time) because her relationship with her mother was severely strained. She had lost her matric certificate, and her ID got stolen. The situation was dire.

We Shall Overcome

“But with God’s grace, my boyfriend, who is today my husband, found a job and shortly after that, I found a job at a carwash where I worked for four years. I also worked as a home-based carer for a disabled child for a while.”

“A neighbour, who was studying at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), told me that there were lots of older students who studied with her and that you don’t have to be fresh out of school to apply.” By then Precious was already over 35 and believed she was too old to study. “But I always had a dream to study, and the idea started growing on me so much that I decided to apply.”

She went to the campus and walked from faculty to faculty to find out how everything works and how she should go about to enrol. She filled out the application forms, wrote an entrance exam and the few previous employers she had, all gave her positive references when the admissions office phoned them.

“At first I wanted to study nursing, but I didn’t get accepted.” It was while Precious was studying to become a teacher that she realised teaching was her true calling. She learned from her lecturers how rewarding it could be to stand in front of a class of children looking up to you for hope and inspiration. As she puts it, “I came to love teaching”.

“Money was always an issue, but I scraped and borrowed and most importantly, trusted God to come through for me. My sister in law gave me some money for the registration, and my husband helped as much as he could. He supported me emotionally and spiritually.”

There was a time in her third year when things just got too difficult. Financially, physically, making ends meet and keeping the household together with her children also begging for her attention. Life was tough, and she wanted to quit. But she was so close, and everyone convinced her to push through. “When days are dark, friends are few, but that’s when you learn to trust God for strength.”

At the End of The Day

A very relieved Precious graduated in 2014 at the age of 40 and today she teaches life orientation full-time at a high school in the Strand. Although the job has its challenges, she realises the opportunity she has to share her life experiences with youngsters and to inspire others to never give up on their dreams. Her dreams of a better life for her own children are also coming true as her oldest daughter is busy studying at CPUT and the younger one is completing gr. 10. Now, that’s what we can safely call a first-class act, Mrs Phuleng!

*The name was changed to protect the individual’s identity