DESPITE having a very difficult childhood, losing his mother, an absent father, losing a home and living in a mud house, Ayanda Sithole (18) fought against all odds and achieved distinctions for all his matric subjects.
Ayanda, a pupil at Siqongweni Secondary School in Imbali, achieved seven distinctions despite all the turmoil in his life. He attributed his performance to his uncle who took him in when he had lost all hope.
Ayanda used to live in Hammarsdale with his mother and grandmother.
“We did not have much, but I was happy even though my father was never in the picture.”
He said when he was in Grade 4 his mother died and his grandmother became gravely ill and lost her job and their home.
“My mother was everything. I was devastated by her death. On top of that we lost our home. Although I did not fully understand what was happening, I could tell that we were in trouble,” said Ayanda.
He said he and his grandmother moved to Imbali where they stayed in a mud house.
“Life went on but it was never the same; we were struggling. I remember the only meals I would eat were porridge in the morning and supper at night. I never had lunch, even at school.”
He said his uncle eventually took him in and encouraged him to focus on his education in order for him to escape poverty.
“My uncle saved me. He instilled a passion in me to dream. He provided my essential needs and pushed me to do my best.”
Ayanda said his uncle signed him up at an extra learning programme called ProTech where they helped him master maths and physics.
“I did not attend the fanciest of schools, but I managed to do very well. I am grateful to my school teachers, ProTech, my family and for the prayers from my church,” he said.
Ayanda was awarded a scholarship last year by the China Campus Network to pursue his dream career of studying electrical engineering in China.
“I am still a little sceptical because it is scary having to leave everything you know and the people you love to go to a foreign country. I am considering it though because Chinese engineering comes highly recommended,” said Sithole. He added that he wished his mother was still alive to see him succeed.
“She would be so proud of me. I am sure she would be jumping and crying with excitement. I miss her every day of my life.”
Ayanda’s uncle, Sabelo Zondi, said he was extremely happy about Ayanda’s results and so proud of his nephew.
“He showed me that he is determined and has also been very respectful and obedient under my guidance. I wish him well for his future,” said Zondi.
Ayanda said in the future he wishes to build a home for his grandmother and help his siblings before owning his dream car and home.
He also encouraged pupils to work and dream hard despite their challenges.
“The poorest man is not the one with no money, but the one with no dream,” he said.