Durban - After being admitted to a drug rehabilitation centre, a proud matriculant from Bizimali High School in Nkandla scored six distinctions and made it to the list of top achievers in his school.
Twenty-two-year-old Lungelo Nxumalo had dropped out of school for two years when he fell in with the “wrong crowd” who introduced him to alcohol and drugs in Grade 11.
His world had consisted of drugs and partying with his friends which led to him to lose focus in school and on life.
“I was disobedient and went deep into all sorts of drugs,” he said.
“I ended up neglecting school. I was always high on something, until I stopped going to school completely.”
He said his drug problem affected his mother, who always encouraged him to get his matric and study further in order to change the family’s situation for the better.
“I did not realise the damage that drugs had on my health and the stress it had brought to my family, who sacrificed a lot to raise us.
“Being the eldest of three children, I had to set an example for my younger siblings.
“It took me two years to come back to my senses.”
Nxumalo said his mother, a single parent, could not study further due to financial challenges, but always spoke to him about studying so he could make something of himself in life.
He said one day he gave in to his mother’s advice and went to a rehabilitation centre.
“I spent three weeks in rehab. I learnt a lot about life and gained skills to make good decisions about my life. I learnt that nobody else had control over how my life turns out but me,” he said.
Nxumalo said he was lucky he received help in time to turn his life around.
“A lot of young people experiment with drugs, and while some, like me, get a second chance, for others help comes too late. I was lucky.”
After being away from school for two years, he was forced to start high school all over again in Grade 10 to catch up with the new curriculum.
“I did not have a problem with the fact that I was older than most kids in my class, because there were others who were older.
“I told myself I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going back to school. Leaving drugs was the best thing I could have done for my future,” he said.
For this young rural man from a poverty-stricken community, living a good life for him and his family might just be a possibility now he has achieved top results for matric. He credited his mother, his school and the teachers who instilled good discipline in him.
“I was not an A student. It was my school that groomed me to become one.”
Nxumalo has been accepted to study mining engineering at Wits, but was worried about how he would pay for his studies.