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  • Writer's pictureRuth First Trust

Laugh a little, have fun, enjoy yourself always!

Jabulile Mhambi’s smile lights up the room. Poised, confident and relaxed, she relishes the opportunity to reflect on her five years at Jeppe Girls and her participation in the Ruth First programme.

“I was born in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. When I was five years old, my parents moved to Kliptown, Soweto. There are eleven of us in our household: my mom and my dad, my sister and brother, and six cousins who are mainly older than me. In Grade 3, I joined the Kliptown Youth Program which provided support and afternoon activities for the children in our area. I didn’t love school, but I enjoyed the dancing and the netball. And they paid my school fees which reduced the stress on my Dad.

“I was a shy introvert in Grade 8 and Grade 9. As the only KYP girl in my year, I didn’t speak to anyone other than my mentor, Ursula van Eck at the Ruthie sessions. I had never had an opportunity to be in a group like this before. There was so much going on which was new and strange for me. And then, one Saturday, Firdous Hamid, one of the mentors said to me “Never under-estimate yourself”. That changed me. From then on, I was more confident and out-going. I made the most of the opportunities which were offered to me.

“This year, AVI, Anglo Vaal Industries, the sponsors of KYP, have paid for me to stay in the hostel at Queens High School. I love living in the hostel. I am able to concentrate on my schoolwork without being distracted by the problems at home. There is time for prep and time to relax, and I feel the consequences if I don’t finish my work. The other girls make me feel responsible to do everything. My marks have improved a lot and I am very hopeful about my Matric results.

“I have had the best high school years. My favourite year was Grade 11. I started to help others and to find my balance. I think I am 80% of the way there. Time management is my problem. Once I get that sorted, I will be on 100%. My best subject is Life Sciences. I did not know how I look on the inside - my intestines and my vital organs. And about the dangers of doing things like drugs and taking too many vitamins!

“Although I didn’t have a Matric Dance, I loved the Matric High Tea. One of my best things is dressing up and looking like a lady. I will be the first from my family to go into tertiary education. I have been provisionally accepted to study Social Work at the University of North West, Vaal campus next year. I will miss the teachers, the discipline and the work but I am ready to take my next steps.

“To my fellow Ruthies, all I can say is, ‘Work hard. Seek out advice from the mentors and your colleagues. And most importantly, be happy.”

We wish Jabulile all the best with her remaining exams, her study choice next year, and her tertiary education. Please come back and fill the room with your smile!

Jabulile is pictured above at the Matric High Tea.

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