Johannesburg - Desmond Nkwashu's mother broke down in tears when her son told her he had passed his matric finals exams with six distinctions.
The only thoughts going through the mind of Emelinah Maakana, who has had to raise two sons with the help of her mother after her husband died in 2008, were of how she was going to help make her sons dream of becoming a doctor come true.
"I was so excited, I was so happy but I did cry because I knew I didn't have the means to send him to school because he loves studying."
She described Nkhwashu as a hard working child who had always willing to help where he could. When she lost her job as a domestic worker in June 2015, he sold snacks and sweets to make some money, most of the time the family depended on his grandmother's pension grant.
"He's a good boy. He's always helping out around the house. [At some point] he was selling at school and after school, he would even buy me airtime when he could."
The 41-year-old said her son had always been an avid reader who loved studying.
Eighteen-year-old Nkwashu was accepted by the University of Witwatersrand to study Medicine and Surgery. Although Maakana was not sure where the family would get the money to fund her son's studies, she had faith that he would eventually make his dreams come true.
"I trust that he can achieve what he wants."
Nkwashu's dream of becoming a medical doctor stems from his love of helping people. He said after qualifying as a doctor, he wanted to return to his village of Khujwana Village in Tzaneen to help his community.
"Most of the kids here drop out of school before getting to Grade 12. They just end up sitting here in the village doing nothing," he said.
Nkwashu passed six out of seven of his subjects with distinction at Matimu High School. He was only 2% shy of achieving a full house by getting 78% for his second language English exam.