My dreams have now changed

By Drum Digital
03 September 2014

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and takes you on a different path – one you could never have imagined for yourself, says reader Tshepiso Ramavhoya

Life doesn't always turn out the way you expect it to and sometimes you have to embrace the changes in your life. My name is Tshepiso Ramavhoya and at the age of 21

I should have been on the brink of making my mark in the world. I should have been approaching the end of completing my first degree and on my way to becoming

a criminologist, having fun and enjoying a care-free life just like other young men my age.  Instead I’ve had to swap my dream for a new one – to be the best “father” I can be to three children, but they’re not my kids , they’re my siblings who are 13, eight and six. Three years ago my life changed drastically. I was  a bursary student at Monash South Africa in Ruimsig. I lived in Zandspruit, an informal settlement in northern Johannesburg, with my mother  Hilda, younger sister and two brothers.  Having lost my stepfather two years earlier we didn’t have much but my mom made sure we had everything we needed with the little she earned.

Then, in my second semester at varsity, my mom became very sick and passed away. I was forced to drop out of school because I became an instant parent. I had to push my own grief aside to focus on my siblings.  At that time I wasn’t earning much as a chess coach for a community outreach programme. One of the coaches introduced me to a non-profit organisation, Hope worldwide (South Africa), whose Shield programme arranged for members of the nearby Johannesburg Church of Christ to “adopt” families in Zandspruit who are in need. They provided us with food, clothes and stationery and helped to fix our shack when it was leaking.  Their assistance and encouragement provided me with support I had never expected and gave me relief, knowing I now had some help. Because I had to drop out of varsity  I was unable to renew the bursary I had but one of the church members offered me an administration job at a company in Fourways, I’ve been working there ever since.

Getting up at 4 am every weekday to prepare for the day ahead is now my new life. I wake the children up, make breakfast and help them get ready for school. I leave home for work at about 6.40 am knowing that my sister will be picked up and taken to a school nearby and that the little ones will be kept at a care centre in the community until I get home at 5 pm. My evenings are spent cooking supper and helping the little ones with their homework. It is a heavy load because there’s little time for me to spend with my friends as I’m too concerned about my siblings. We don’t live in  a safe community. On the weekend I spend time with my sister and sometimes take my brothers to watch soccer close by.

I wasn’t ready to be a parent but I’m coping. I’ve accepted that my parents are gone and that I’m the only one my siblings have – our grandparents are too old and live in Limpopo.

My dreams have now changed. My focus now is to help my siblings succeed and achieve their dreams. I tell them that they can attain their goals one day, that nothing is impossible for God. He’s got plans for their lives, just like He has for me . . . My life is different but I can still dream big.

By Tshepiso Ramavhoya

Find Love!