Nozi’s story

By Kirstin Buick
10 November 2013

When I met MySchool Dream School maths teacher Nozi Bonje, I thought she was one of the students – she could pass for 16!

She could also pass for a model. Nozi looks a little like a doll, with her pretty round face and big, dark eyes. There’s something in the way she carries herself too, that makes her beautiful. She has a quiet, ballerina-like grace that makes her seem wise beyond her years.

So when Nozi told her story to the Dream School kids, I couldn’t believe it. If you missed last night’s episode, here it is in brief: When Nozi was in her early teens, she watched her father beat her mother to death.

“My dad used to drink a lot,” she explained to the kids. “He used to fight with my mom a lot. Like … a lot. So one weekend they were fighting as usual. And my dad killed my mom. I saw the whole thing. He beat her with everything he could find.”

At the time, Nozi was part of the Grey Absa Academy, an intensive academic holiday programme for promising learners from disadvantaged schools in Bloemfontein run by then-Grey College headmaster (and Dream School headmaster), Johan Volsteedt.

Nozi had missed classes after her mother’s death, and Johan was ready to kick her out. But he quickly changed his mind when he heard what had happened to her. He helped Nozi get a bursary at Eunice High School, a prestigious girl’s school in Bloemfontein. Nozi flourished there – so much so that she was able to get a bursary to study Human Molecular Biology at the University of the Free State

To read more about Nozi and what happened to her, you can read my full story in the latest YOU, Huisgenoot and Drum.

You’d expect someone who had gone through all that trauma to be a hostile, closed off person. But not Nozi. She volunteered to tell the Dream School students what had happened to her – even though it was traumatic for her to relive – because she thought it might give them some perspective, even peace. As was evident from today’s episode, she was right. Her tale really struck a chord with them, prompting an outpouring of emotions that they had locked away and begun to fester into self-pity and bitterness.

All of the Dream School kids are going through heartaches of their own – many of them had these heartaches inflicted by their own family members. Nozi showed them how important it was to forgive those who had wronged them. It was very difficult for her to forgive her father. “But I didn’t do it for him,” she told them, “I did it for myself. I mean, if you hold on to the hatred and everything, it’s not going to hurt him. It’s only going to hurt me.”

I think that hearing those words marked a turning point in the lives of many of the MySchool Dream School kids.

-Kirstin Buick

YOU writer Kirstin Buick had a bird’s eye view of the goings-on on the set of Dream School. Keep up to date with her weekly blog for exclusive behind-the-scenes info. Follow her on Twitter for more.

Catch  MySchool Dream School every Sunday at 5 pm on M-Net, M-Net HD, Mzanzi Magic and M-Net Series Channel.

Visit The MySchool Dream School website for more.

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