Cape Town - A struggling Manenberg High School matriculant who achieved six distinctions was on Thursday inundated with calls from Good Samaritans pledging donations to help pay for her studies.
A Cape Argus report on Thursday prompted several Capetonians to reach out to Anushqah van der Ventel, 18, after reading about her financial struggles to pay for her first year at Rhodes University.
Van der Ventel aspires to become a TV news anchor and break the cycle of poverty in her family though education.
Van der Ventel has to find R89 000 for residence and tuition.
“We have managed to get together half (by fundraising) but if I do not pay the rest, I am worried I will not be able to complete my studies,” she said.
The teen lives with her single mother, Jasmina van der Ventel, 51, and her wheelchair-bound grandmother, Gadija Jacobs, 74, in a small house in Red River Road.
Jacobs also helps out where she can with her pension.
Van der Ventel’s mother, who works as a clerk in Salt River, said: “It has been a difficult three years since my husband died of cancer, but I will do my utmost to give my baby girl the best opportunity. I want a better life for her.”
Van der Ventel faced many challenges in the volatile area in which she lives, often having to brave gang-warfare to access internet café’s to complete homework assignments.
“What always keeps me motivated is memorising the faces of my family when I make them proud.
“That is invaluable to me. When I see them proud of me, I want that reaction all the time.
“I want them to know that all the years they took care of me, all the sacrifices they made for me has not gone to waste.”
One of those who has offered to help is a marine manager in Panorama, Nadia Ebrahim, who said she felt inspired by the young girl because she was raised by her mother – a widower – who had to support her four children. She will donate a substantial amount of money.
When Ebrahim was accepted at Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town for a degree in economics, she was forced to abandon her studies because of financial issues.
“I worked at the flea market on Cape Town Station to raise funds to eventually study for a degree in economics. Now I have a ship management company, with contracts in Singapore and Dubai,” she said.
A factory manager from Mitchells Plain, Terence Davids, said he was willing to donate R500 to assist the girl.
Giggs Lakay, who read Van der Ventel’s story on Facebook, also donated R500.
Van der Ventel said: “I am so overwhelmed. I cannot believe this is happening. We have been struggling to get more funds and these donations will take the pressure off my mom.
“It is really heartening that I have been getting messages of encouragement from practical strangers on Facebook, edging me on to reach my dreams. I am truly blessed.”
Anyone who wants to make donations can e-mail [email protected] for the banking details.