- Itumeleng Sekhu survived a raging fire caused by a candle that fell on a mattress when she was just 11 months old.
- Despite losing limbs and being left with severe scarring, she reluctantly started telling her story.
- Itumeleng is now an internationally accredited speaker, has established the Itumeleng Sekhu Foundation, and owns both a candle and a wine company.
Itumeleng Sekhu's life took an almost tragic turn when she was just 11 months old. A candle fell onto her mattress, badly burning her. She lost an ear, her right arm and was left with one finger.
"My face is scarred as well as the right side of my body. I was bullied so much that I tried to commit suicide three times, but failed," she said.
Itumeleng said that she herself became a bully.
"During that time, I became a bully myself. Ultimately, hurt people, hurt other people, right?"
But it was a moment of being thrown into the deep that forced Itumeleng to step out in faith.
She was a content producer for Sbusiso Leope, known as DJ Sbu, on Metro FM, on a show called "The Sound Revival".
"Sbusiso later appointed me as his Project Manager at the Sbusiso Leope Foundation. We would go to schools to motivate learners. This one time, he called me up to tell the learners my story," she said.
"I couldn't believe he put me on the spot like that. Needless to say, I was scared and shaking as it was my first time sharing my story. I cried, I froze - it was terrible, but I finished telling my story and received a standing ovation."
This experience made the 34-year-old mother of three realise how powerful her story was.
"The more I spoke about it, the more I healed. Now I love encouraging and motivating people to reach their full potential through my story," she said.
Her trauma from the fire also pushed Itumeleng to start her own candle business.
"I started my candle business because of my phobia for candles. So, to overcome the phobia, I went onto YouTube and typed, 'how to make candles', and IS CANDLES SA was born," she said.
Itumeleng has since written a book, titled "What Do You See?"
She is also an internationally accredited speaker and has established the Itumeleng Sekhu Foundation.
"My purpose is what wakes me up every day. I learnt in varsity, through my spiritual walk with Christ Jesus, that my purpose is to bring hope and healing to people because my scars are external. But everyone has scars within because ultimately we all have a story to tell. I believe we can only control what we do," Itumeleng said.
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"Unfortunately, we can't control how other people act, so zone in your power and live life fully each day."
But she hasn't stopped there.
She also launched her wine brand in September 2021.
"IS WINES has been such a blessing to us. We launched the Premium Bushvine Pinotage and the Premium Sweet Rosé last year September, and the reception has been absolutely amazing. The slogan is 'Define What Life Is'.
"I wanted people to know that, no matter what you have been through, you need to redefine what your life is and becomes. Never allow your circumstances to do that for you," she said.