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Cape Town - The Cape Argus spoke to three matrics who are determined to succeed despite their circumstances.
Having no electricity at home was just one of the obstacles Thando Somina had to face in his matric year.
But Somina, 20, from Matthew Goniwe Memorial High in Khayelitsha, was determined to make a success of his schooling and refused to give up on his dreams.
His story was heard across South Africa when DA leader Helen Zille highlighted it in one of her speeches in November.
“He lives with his mother and younger sister in a tiny shack in Site B in Khayelitsha. He does not know his father. His mother is unemployed. They sometimes go without food because they have no money,” she said.
“Thando is determined to change his family’s circumstances. He told me that he realised in primary school that education was the best way to do so.”
Circumstances at home didn’t always allow Somina to study, but he always made a plan.
“At the beginning of the year we had electricity so I studied at home. But on weekends it’s difficult to study there so I would wake up early in the morning and go to Cape Town library and study the whole day there,” he said.
When the family didn’t have electricity he would study at a friend’s home.
“I realised at primary school that education is the only way for me, especially when you come from a disadvantaged background.”
Francois Lubbe, a Western Cape Education Department institutional management and governance manager said Somina was a hard worker.
“He is determined to make a difference despite his circumstances,” Lubbe said.
The two met on the first day of the 2012 school year when Lubbe assisted Somina after he didn’t have the correct school uniform. Somina said Lubbe had helped him throughout the year and had been a father figure.
He said school had also shown him huge support.
“We have the most passionate and hard-working teachers here at our school. They all have the common goal to bring out the best in Khayelitsha,” he said.
Somina, who loves to write poetry and enjoys modelling, said he hoped to study pharmacy at the University of the Western Cape: “I would like to make a huge change in my community and in South Africa because there are few black pharmacists.”
Odwa Mavuso hopes to see “nothing less than four distinctions” when he opens his matric results on Thursday.
The pupil from the Centre of Science and Technology (Cosat) in Khayelitsha said he had worked hard throughout his matric year and was hoping it would pay off.
In 2011 the school was among the top 10 in the province.
“Many of us (Cosat pupils) come from disadvantaged families, but we don’t let our circumstances demotivate us.
“Some of us will be the first in our families to go to university.”
Odwa, 19, lives with his cousin and two siblings in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha. His mother had to relocate to the Eastern Cape when he was in Grade 10.
His older brother – who works in a liquor store – is the family’s breadwinner.
Odwa started attending Cosat in Grade 10 and said he was thankful for the knowledge his teachers had instilled in him.
“We were always encouraged to talk about what was happening in the world and were not just restricted to the syllabus.”
His achievements over the three years include winning a gold medal at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists for a project he completed with a fellow pupil.
The medal was awarded in the category social and psychological science and the project was titled Homophobia in Khayelitsha.
He also found the time to tutor pupils in Khayelitsha throughout the year in maths, physics and life sciences.
Odwa plans to study medicine at Stellenbosch University this year.
Shahiem Rogers is a firm believer that where you come from doesn’t determine what you can achieve.
The Hanover Park teenager’s role in promoting youth leadership and good values at his school has already earned him the opportunity of a lifetime – he was a torchbearer at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The trip to the UK was Shahiem’s first outside the province.
“(Participating in the torch relay) was the highlight of my matric year. There was so much excitement. It was such an honour and a privilege.”
The Mountview High pupil said sport had played a big role in his life. He loved taking part in the 100m and 200m sprint and also swam for Hanover Park Aquatics.
“I wouldn’t be as confident as I am if I didn’t participate in sports.”
He is also involved in a youth forum in Hanover Park through which he helps to organise sport and recreational activities, including table tennis and cycling for children in the area.
Despite his busy schedule Shahiem didn’t neglect his studies.
“I’m expecting good results and I’m not feeling anxious. I am staying positive. I was in the top five at school. Our teachers were very dedicated and really care about the learners.”
Shahiem hopes to pursue a career in sport science and biokinetics.
* The matric results will be published in the Argus on Friday.