Fezeka Nxumalo will attend the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg next year. Her teacher, Leashnee Pooran, helped her with her application. 
  MOTSHWARI MOFOKENG African News Agency (ANA)
Fezeka Nxumalo will attend the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg next year. Her teacher, Leashnee Pooran, helped her with her application. 
 MOTSHWARI MOFOKENG African News Agency (ANA)
Teacher Leashnee Pooran, who applied to the academy on Fezeka’s behalf.
Teacher Leashnee Pooran, who applied to the academy on Fezeka’s behalf.
Durban - Growing up in the poverty-stricken Inchanga, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, has not stopped 13-year-old Fezeka Nxumalo from reaching for her dreams.

The Inchanga Primary School pupil, one of 2 300 young applicants from KwaZulu-Natal, has been selected to study at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg.

The Grade 7 pupil, who loves English and mathematics, will begin her new journey at the academy next year.

“I feel happy and sad at the same time because I have to leave my mother,” Fezeka said.

“I feel happy because I will get the kind of education my mother has always wanted me to get.”

Fezeka walks for nearly an hour to get to school and back home every day. She leaves home at 7am to make it in time for school to start at 7.45am.

“I like school to the moon and back,” she beamed. “When I grow up, I want to be a scientist because I like science and doing experiments.”

Fezeka visited the academy in July and could not stop talking about what she saw.

“When I first saw the school, it was like heaven. I haven’t seen a school like that before,” she said.

Zinhle Nxumalo, 32, Fezeka’s mother, said she did not know how to express her joy.

“I’m over the moon, I can’t explain it. I have raised her on my own and I am very proud,” Nxumalo said.

“I want her to have the future I did not have. I want her to see that I am willing to jump as high as possible for her.”

She said she taught her daughter to pray and would hear her thank God for the mother she has.

“It’s like we’re siblings. When I’m crying and going through something, she will comfort me,” she said.

“I’m going to miss her a lot. Even when she was in Johannesburg for three days, I missed her a lot. That’s when I saw that my child plays a huge role in my life,” she said.

Leashnee Pooran, Fezeka’s mathematics teacher, was instrumental in making her and her mother’s dreams come true.

Pooran had applied to the academy on behalf of Fezeka and a few other girls. After four selection phases, Fezeka received her acceptance letter to the academy.

“It’s moments like these that we teachers live for,” Pooran said.

“Fezeka makes us proud and this uplifts the community and makes other pupils feel encouraged.

“I couldn’t breathe when she got her acceptance letter last Thursday. I was crying so much; we were so excited,” she said.

“She is quite an asset to us. It’s not just a poor, dilapidated area. Stars do come out from here.”

Daily News