Dancing through life despite hardships
Durban - Dancer and actress Vuyo cannot remember her mother, who died when she was just a toddler.
However, there’s no doubt her mother would be proud of the talented young woman who faces an uncertain post-Covid future with a bright smile.
Vuyo, 20, (who asked that her surname remain confidential), grew up in the Durban Child and Youth Care Centre (formerly Durban Children’s Home) from the age of 3 and the centre has always been her home. She has three sisters and a brother who were also in the children’s centre as she grew up.
“But we lived on different sides of the centre and only connected a bit later, so friends have always been important.”
Vuyo said it was her strong faith which had been her constant companion as she was growing up.
“When you don’t have someone to depend on, you depend on yourself, but having a higher power to believe in also gives you someone who has your back,” she said, adding that her mentor, who came into her life during her teen years, also changed her path.
At the time, the mentorship of children was under the centre’s Bright Stars programme .
“You grow up being a child who keeps things to herself because no one is that amped to listen to you.
“During my teen years, I so badly wanted to be accepted, I just wanted to fit in and couldn’t keep focused. I started dancing when I was 12 and it was dance that kept me going.
“My mentor was the one person I could go to for emotional help and assistance with my studying. She has been a blessing in my life,” said Vuyo.
Her mentor also assisted in moving Vuyo from her first high school to Durban Girl’s High School from Grade 10, which provided her with opportunities including the chance to seriously pursue her love of dance.
“I really grabbed every opportunity and was able to join a dance academy. I don’t believe in worrying about struggling and being negative, I like to look on the bright side of life. If you keep going, things will fall into place,” she said. “We were also groomed, as performers, to have qualities such as confidence,” she said, adding that she had performed across numerous dance genres including jazz, hip hop and contemporary.
Now in her second year at UKZN, studying drama and English, she is a dancer with the Flatfoot Dance Company.
Looking forward, she imagines having a family of her own one day.
“But right now I’m very contented being on my own. I’ve spent lockdown as a time for personal space and discovering my roots.
“I think women today are able to pursue what they want to; there are lots of opportunities now. Women sometimes blame society, and not themselves, when they don’t succeed. You have to have confidence in yourself,” she said.
Vuyo’s childhood home, the Durban Child and Youth Care Centre, has been caring for orphaned and vulnerable children since it opened in 1918.
This week, the centre’s director, Mandy Grobler, said while the centre had not yet had any coronavirus infections, the lockdown had had an impact on its finances.
“We’re aware that so many people are losing their jobs and those smaller donor companies which support us may not be able to. Every year, it’s hard to predict income from fund-raising and donations - this year, it’s almost impossible,” she said.
Grobler said they had to close the Siyakhula Rehabilitation Centre, which had been operating for 21 years and provided in-patient treatment to children for substance abuse.
This was after the Department of Social Development’s decision not to increase its subsidies for the last two years, on top of subsidy cuts in previous years.
“We would have had to raise R1million to keep the rehabilitation centre operating for the next three years, so we now have to focus on our core residential programmes for the children,” said Grobler.
“In the context of these uncertain times and the unpredictability of government funding, we’re appealing to the public for financial assistance to ensure the sustainability of our remaining programmes - the Residential and Amaqhawe Special Care Centre -” said Grobler.
Donations can be made online at www.dch.org.za, or email [email protected] to find out how you can help.
The Independent on Saturday