South Africa

YOUTH SPEAK | I'm still feeling the pain of losing my mom but I'm driven to succeed

YOUTH SPEAK | I'm still feeling the pain of losing my mom but I'm driven to succeed

This essay is part of a June 16 series published on TimesLIVE on Youth Day. The Sunday Times last year published extracts from the book Learning under Lockdown, compiled by professor Jonathan Jansen and Emily O’Ryan to celebrate Youth Day. Fast-forward to 2021: some stories reveal further heartbreak while others have happier endings. The series of essays published today on TimesLIVE looks at where these children are now, a year later.

2021: I help my community because I want to study social work next year

I have been quite busy. I am rewriting two subjects at the moment, but life has been fruitful, I would say.

I failed my matric but nothing is stopping me from getting what's mine.

Another challenge I faced was the passing of my mom while I was doing matric.

My mommy unfortunately passed on last year in July so my family is supporting me through all this time. My relationship with my mentor, and the founder of the Women Lead Movement, Melene Rossouw, is going strong. She is still my mentor and is definitely helping me where she can.

I am still on a healing journey regarding the passing of my mom. Things have changed a lot. I learnt more about myself through everything and how to handle different situations.

Focus and drive yourself towards what is rightfully yours, but appreciate everything you have, because life's short. Make the most of it.
Etaine Wilson

I wouldn't say I have not yet overcome my fears of doing matric yet, but I'm learning how to handle these fears the right way.

I am doing part-time studying. What I do with my spare time is community work, because I want to study social work next year. I get involved in a lot of youth empowerment projects, such as next weekend, when I'm going to be one of the mentors where we teach kids on leadership.

I want to study at UWC or Stellenbosch.

I only have one sister. I stay at her mother-in-law's house now since my mom passed on. I miss everything about my mom. I miss our bond. She was always the one praying for me. May her soul rest in peace.

One of the lessons I have learnt right now in life is that throughout whatever you're facing, live and work hard.

Focus and drive yourself towards what is rightfully yours, but appreciate everything you have, because life's short. Make the most of it.

2020: Grade 12 at Kasselsvlei Comprehensive High in Bellville, Cape Town

For me, lockdown was a challenge because I love to learn in a formal learning environment. It was really difficult for me because I do not have my own room to study in peace and quiet.

My mother and I share a room, so at night I have to study at the kitchen table because I do not want to disturb my mom’s sleep. Or I go and study at my mom’s friend’s house during the day, so that I can get my work done and meet some of my deadlines.

I started this exciting journey with my goal to receive distinctions and pass my grade well.

Instead, it turned out to be a year where I am in fear, anxiety and depression. Am I going to pass this year? My parents are not that experienced with home schooling because both my parents — I should actually just say my mommy, she’s a single mother who receives a social grant due to disability — cannot help me because she only has grade 9, and my dad, well, let’s just say he only gives money when he feels like it, because my mommy raised me all on her own. She made me the young lady I am today.

My mother spent almost R2,000 in two months for my online studies and she cannot afford to spend more because we need food in our house. So I told her I would use my resources, such as my textbooks and my knowledge, to study and finish my online studies.

It’s hard because all my friends — well, most of them — have Wi-Fi. Not all are so kind as to help one another. I have to work and sweat very hard. I may not have all the resources like a laptop and Wi-Fi, but I will do whatever it takes to become a social worker and make a difference in someone else’s life who is exactly where I am today.

We may come out of difficult circumstances but our circumstances do not determine us.
Etaine Wilson

I loved this experience. I’ve learnt to work under pressure and meet deadlines. I am going to make my dream come true, even if it takes a lot of effort to get there.

One of my role models is [founder of the Women Lead Movement] Melene Rossouw, who is guiding me and helping me gain my self-confidence. She is my constant motivation. If it wasn’t for her and the women’s movement, I would still be suffering from anxiety and depression and telling myself I would not make it.

My advice to matriculants right now is,: let’s achieve our dreams and show [basic education minister] Angie [Motshekga] that we will make it.

The devil may think he's got us, but we've got him. Do you know why? Because we've got Jesus on our side. Let’s conquer the world and our education. I really hope my story can inspire someone. We may come out of difficult circumstances but our circumstances do not determine us.

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