Hlengiwe uses past troubles to educate pupils on underage drinking

2015-08-26 11:26
Hlengiwe Mcoyi (15) has been selected to participate in the reality TV show Future Leaders, which features five ordinary teenagers from different walks of life in South Africa who had past experience with alcohol.

Hlengiwe Mcoyi (15) has been selected to participate in the reality TV show Future Leaders, which features five ordinary teenagers from different walks of life in South Africa who had past experience with alcohol. (Ian Carbutt)

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BURSTING with excitement over her first appearance on national television, Silver Heights Secondary pupil Hlengiwe Mcoyi (15) said the key to success is confidence.

Hlengiwe is the only KZN teen selected to participate in the reality TV show Future Leaders, which features five ordinary teenagers from different walks of life in South Africa who had past experience with alcohol.

After a difficult upbringing and dabbling in alcohol from as young as 13 years old, Hlengiwe is spreading the word on the dangers of underage drinking through the TV show.

“My dad would abuse my mother in front of my brother and I. This led to my mother drinking alcohol every day and she would even leave us to go partying with her friends. I was only five years old and was brought up this way,” said Hlengiwe.

She said she turned to alcohol since her mother “showed that it was fun and exciting”.

“I became so sick that I vowed I would never touch alcohol again. It destroys your future and my mission is to educate children about underage drinking,” she said. Now she lives with her aunt, brother and cousins in Northdale.

The show documents Hlengiwe and other teenagers’ journey to becoming positive change agents and role models within their respective communities and schools. Hlengiwe will be working with top-five Miss South Africa 2015 pageant contender Sihle Makanya, who is a qualified quantity surveyor, as her mentor.

“My project that I am working on with Sihle is to expand, furnish and refurbish a local school’s library. I feel that by doing this I can educate my peers to turn to healthier activities rather than drinking,” said Hlengiwe. The first episode aired on August 16 on SABC 1.

“My story touched many people’s lives. People who would tease me or make fun of me come up to me and apologise after hearing about my background on the show,” she said.

Hlengiwe said apart from her rough upbringing, she was teased a lot at school about her weight and complexion.

“I had a very low self-esteem and would go home every day and cry. My cousins told me to tell myself ‘I am beautiful; I am intelligent and I will not allow anyone or anything destroy me or my future’. I would say this every night and now I am confident in my mind and body. When people call me a ‘fatty’ I just let it pass because their words cannot affect me,” she said.

Hlengiwe said Future Leaders has opened doors for her and she now wants to return the favour and help anyone in need of upliftment.

Silver Heights teacher Bubs Armoogam who helped coach Hlengiwe for her interviews for Future Leaders, said: “She taught me how important it is to be confident and that believing in yourself is the gateway to achieving your dreams”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  youth

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