Submitted by:  Marianne du Plessis

One of the most popular and endearing #ImStaying stories ever (over 23 000 likes) was from Marianne du Plessis who, in October 2019, told us about Nkosinathi, an exceptionally determined and hard-working young man.  We are delighted to share this update and thank all the kind and generous Stayers who rallied behind Nkosinathi to make this journey so memorable.  

(for the original story, please continue reading all the way to the end)

Hi Stayers, as promised, here is an awesome update on Nkosinathi.  We flew to Cape Town on 1 January (his first flight and the first flight of his family, ever).  What excitement!  We stayed at a stunning Guesthouse and Backpackers Hotel (Nathi’s accommodation sponsored by the gracious Kirsten).  The next 7 days were filled with wonder, excitement, joy, and fun! 

I am absolutely delighted to tell you that Nathi passed Matric this week with 71.5% average and 3 distinctions! 

He has been accepted into the University of Johannesburg to study Travel and Tourism Management for 2020.  He is the first in his family to pass Matric, ever.  And he passed his driver’s test yesterday!  The past 3 years have been really tough, but he kept going through many challenges, and now he stands firm in his future and will have a life worthwhile.  We only have 2 requests of him: to care for and look after his mother, and to pay it forward to someone in need one day.  He already told me he wants to help struggling school pupils this year.

Provided by: M du Plessis

Nathi is on top of the world!

This miraculous outcome has been possible with the commitment of my sister, niece, incredible tutor and mentor Emmanuel Nkomo, his teachers and principal, and Nathi himself.  My gracious thanks for the outpouring of generosity for our trip, which would not have been possible without you: tour guides Ray Haakonsen and Sorita Musgrave, Brandy Elizabeth Taylor, Brett Michielin, Gabbi Katz, Jane Badham, Maria van der Merwe, Wendy Westbrook, Adine Lourens, Cathy, Andrew, and Michael.

We will be monitoring Nathi’s progress going forward to ensure he stays on the right path.  It’s a giant step forward in his walk to freedom.  He has learned the power of perseverance and is savoring the joy and pride of his accomplishment.  He is only one soul in the bigger picture of education in South Africa.  Let us each one teach one.

Original Story

7 December 2016 was the most bittersweet day for me.  My son had just received news that he placed 1st in his Grade 11 class!  I was overjoyed knowing he could now apply to university with confidence.  I felt like a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders.  He had worked hard and achieved his Academic Honours.

Later that day, my domestic helper (we are the same age), came to work her Saturday shift.  I smiled happily, about to give her my news, when I noticed she was sad.  In tears, she told me her son, Nkosinathi, had just failed Grade 10.

My son and Nkosinathi were born 6 months apart, both to single moms.  I had met Nkosinathi many times over the years and I loved him.  I felt devastated that his hopes and dreams were disappearing.  What would become of him?

He is a warm, caring, intelligent young man, but he had endured the lack of resources and negative attitudes often found in township schools his whole life.  The system is often blind to the needs of the children, causing the immense potential of these young men and women to lie in ruins.

Nathi is a hard worker

That night my heart was torn in anguish. 

How could it be that these two bright-eyed young men could not walk the same path to adulthood and a life worth living?  I could not accept it.

Long story short, we had an indaba with Nkosinathi, his mother, my 21-year-old niece, my sister (on speakerphone from the UK), and me.

My niece became Nkosinathi’s tutor and we bought everything he needed.  She quickly brought him up to speed on Grade 9 (filling in all the gaps, especially maths), and then Grade 10.

His friends came to ask him for help and to borrow his textbooks.  He passed Grade 10 well in 2017 and also passed Grade 11 in 2018.

This year, he is in Grade 12.  We found Emmanuel, a fantastic local Diepsloot young man, who throughout this year has tutored Nkosinathi with excellence and kindness.  He is 100% committed to his success and has also become his life coach.

Emmanuel is using the extra income to fund his accounting studies.  Nkosinathi has just finished applying to universities for 2020 to study travel and tourism.  His marks are averaging well over 65%.

I asked him where the first place he would like to travel is.  He replied with a smile and said, Cape Town, then he said Robben Island.  So we made a pact.  If he gets a 60% (or higher) grade average (excluding life orientation) for matric, I will book airplane tickets for us to go to Cape Town for five days.

He is SO excited!  We both know he is going to achieve this.  He is head down with studies right now, and he is nervous but excited!

A student child needs only one person to believe in them. 

#ImStaying because I can make a difference to one soul.

As matric exams approach, let us think of our starry-eyed young men and women.  A student child needs only one person to believe in them.  Let us commit to be that one person so they know they are seen, supported, and that we will NOT let their stars go out on our watch!

For more positive and uplifting stories visit us at #ImStaying