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July 3, 2017

Don’t let your past define your future

Bahle

I’m Bahle Bethwell Danisa, a 19-year-old kid from eMlazi (Folweni) in Durban. I am currently preparing to embark on my BSc in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering studies at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom.

I was raised by a loving and God-fearing family that played a vital role in my childhood and taught me to believe in God and to put him first in everything I do. That shaped me into a well-behaved kid, who avoided being rebellious like a lot of my peers in my township. I am one of six siblings, with only my mother and grandmother earning a steady income as a domestic worker and social grant, respectively. My father is a part-time chess coach. I started my high school career at Ogwini High School in 2012, where my mother was the one responsible for my school fees, but not for long! I was always hard-working from my early childhood and I continued with that mind-set in high school and soon my arduous work got recognition.

I was nominated to apply for an Inkanyezi Project bursary when I was doing Grade 9. I did, but I wasn’t expecting to be chosen. With God on my side, I made the short-list and was later chosen to be a member of this wonderful family.

That was the turning point in my life. My mother was relieved of paying my school fees, stationery and uniform. This freed up what little income we had as a family, because more money was available to spend on our family’s needs. Not only did Inkanyezi take care of my financial needs, but they also took care of my academic and emotional well-being by providing extra-lessons in three major subjects - Maths, Physics and English - and a mentorship programme that provided caring and loving companions in Miss Nene, Mrs Cele and Mrs Khanyile. Suddenly, school felt like home, I had a family of five brothers, four sisters, my two awesome mothers - Miss Sishi and Mrs Cullen, and two fathers - Dr Dlamini and Mr Nzama. They all played a vital role in my success, they motivated me, pushed me to the limit and most importantly, they believed in me.

2016 was the most important year in my life so far. It was time to reap what I had sown throughout my high school career. I knew it was time to make everyone who believed and supported me proud. It was also the year that I had to make sacrifices in order to be a step closer to achieving my goals. I had to rent a room closer to school in order to study more, I had to sacrifice sleep, friends and family time in order to work on my dreams. I was on the right track, I could see the finish line, but one thing was missing- my Inkanyezi siblings. I didn’t want to reach my goals and leave them behind so I suggested that we start group sessions daily in order to help each other in areas that we weren’t experts in, we had our own tests every weekend and suddenly I could see us as a family reaching the finish line on a high note together, and indeed we did.

“Zenex helped me realise my potential, made me believe that I had the ability to succeed and kicked me out of my comfort zone. They made me believe in the saying that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, only your destination matters”. Based on the financial state of my family, I thought I wasn’t destined for greatness, but they made that possible. Who would have thought that a Black kid from the dusty township of Umlazi would be studying his degree in Europe one day? I am living proof that with a combination of support and belief in one’s potential by others, together with commitment, hard work and dedication from one, anything is possible!”
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