A Graduate’s Story – 'How Umzi Wethu Changed My Life'

There are so many things that I want to say thank you for, and I have no idea where to start...!

When I think of where my life started, then I see some good memories and some bad memories over the small amount of years that I have been around.

Bad memories: my mother got murdered when I was 14 months old, and my father decided he would disappear from the scene. My grandmother with her brave heart being a widow and on pension decided she will take care of me and she did. She did an incredible job and then she passed away when I was at the age of 15 years, my life was broken all over again.

I cannot remember having my own toothbrush as a child, neither did I had the privilege to own my facecloth or a bed, as far as I can remember is that we were 5 grandchildren together with my grandma, all sleeping on a single bed…

That is some of the glimpses that I get from my past. There are of course a lot more that took place in my childhood years, but there is not enough time to write it all. I was even roaming on the streets at one time in my life, going around begging for bread during Christmas holidays, I was probably 8 years at the time, those were critical times in my life.

Good memories: then I had a chance to become part of a family called Umzi Wethu, little did I know that my life would be forever changed. I got married 4 months ago, we are now expecting our first baby, there are now strong possibilities of me going back to school again next year, I had the privilege to take my 1st trip on a plane and overseas with you Andrew.

My life has changed for the better. I am grateful for one thing: my children and their children will now have the privilege to grow up in a better environment and they don’t ever have to go through what I went through in my short life.

I want to thank you for your vision that is so clear and based on improving the lives of many broken innocent children in South Africa. I know that the programme will go from strength to strength, and thank you once again for taking the opportunity to Somerset East. I am excited about what the programme will accomplish in Somerset East.

There is so many dreams that I still want to achieve, and I know each and every one of them will come to pass, because of the good foundation that was laid through an opportunity I was granted. I am going to take what I was given and I am going to turn it into something profitable, that I can give back to my community and to the world at large.

I can also say that this could never have been possible for me, if it was not for my faith in God, he was the strength within me when I had given up so many times even while on the programme, and now I can go back to Him with a grateful heart and with a joyful spirit. When I look back than I see my struggles as stepping stones and I know that it does not have to be that way anymore!

This letter was written to Andrew Muir, director of the Wilderness Foundation by one of the first graduates of the Umzi Wethu programme. We are proud of his incredible achievements and are excited to see where he goes in the future!

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