I worked for Anglo Coal Landau Colliery in Witbank, Mpumalanga. At the mine my job title read “general labourer”.

The work at the mine was physically demanding and certainly not the place to start your working career from. At the mine the environment and culture was that from a previous era – the 1980s.

The place and its people stunted all aspirations and dreams and it was a graveyard of ambition. I knew that if I was to stay on any longer it would break my spirit.

While working at the mine I studied through Unisa, but I had a burning desire to leave work to study fulltime.

I remember my parents not supporting my decision, telling me I have to grow up and be a man. Halfway through the first quarter I received a letter from JB Marks Education Trust Fund, confirming my funding for the full course.

My job title now reads “principal statistician”.

I have since helped my sister through university. She received her BTech IT Business Applications from TUT. The bursary from JB Marks was a gift from God.

I thank the then National Union of Mineworkers leadership, for their foresight in establishing this fund that has helped many poor black youngsters from the rural mining towns, where young black people are expected to accept their lot in poverty. This fund has help stunt the destructive cycle of poverty among our people.

Larry Dimmenico de Bruin

Equestria, Pretoria