Jobs and the young – Tebogo Molibalwa’s story: Battling peer pressure

2012-07-14 11:04

For Tebogo Molibalwa, not having a job meant more than just financial pressure – the peer pressure to break the law was pervasive.

“Being unemployed, it is tempting to do unlawful things. When you’re together with a group of people with nothing to do, you start to form stupid ideas on how to make money.”

Supported by a single parent, his father Thabo, an administration clerk at a mid-tier accounting firm, life in Soweto wasn’t easy for Tebogo and his four siblings.

After successfully matriculating, there wasn’t enough money for university, which gave rise to uncertainty over his future.

“Unemployed life is waking up in the morning in an ugly mood, thinking: ‘What’s next today?’ I used to wait by the gate watching the same people passing by and I felt useless in the world.”

With nothing to work towards every day, boredom and frustration soon follow. Then there’s the camaraderie that comes with gangs and criminal syndicates.

It was a daily challenge for Tebogo to remain focused on a positive future for him and his family.

“I wanted to be someone my younger brothers and sisters could look up to,” he says.

In spite of a big family network of aunts, uncles and his father, who all gave Tebogo money, it was never consistent and offered no security.

“I hated being dependent on other people and begging them for money, even to buy my own socks,” he says.

Never knowing where cash was going to come from next became an issue when looking for a job, which requires money to post a CV or to purchase a bus ticket to get to interviews.

Tebogo now works full time in business process outsourcing at Hollard.

He claims his greatest achievement is resisting the peer pressure put on him by his unemployed friends, which he believes would have landed him in trouble.

With permanent employment comes self-esteem and the confidence to rise up against peer pressure.

Tebogo says: “I used to be a shy person, but now I am someone who can hold my head up high.”

His father Thabo says: “I cannot believe the transformation in him. He went from such a quiet and introverted boy to someone who is outspoken and self-assured.”

Although Tebogo is now far from bad influences, the working world can also be a challenging place.

His line manager, Mohammed Sathar, says: “This is a harsh and stressful environment, but Tebogo was mentally prepared and fit in immediately.”

Tebogo divides his earnings between family, transport, a savings plan, entertainment and setting money aside for his goal of gaining a tertiary qualification.

“Now that I have the opportunity, I would like to study a BCom through Unisa while I am working,” he says.

Tebogo also provides for his siblings, giving them money for school lunches or field trips.

This gives them access to opportunities that Tebogo never had, thereby empowering both siblings.

Tebogo’s father says his son, as a role model, has set a high standard for the rest of his family and with that comes enhanced morale.


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