My name is Leonard Azwindini Malema, I was born in 1984 March the 3rd. I am the 1st born with only one sister. My mother passed away 23 years ago, we grew up living with my grandmother. We grew up using my grandmother’s grant money to survive and as for my father he didn’t bother himself to help us.
I wasn’t born using crutches; I started experiencing a leg problem in 1996 at the age of 12. My grandmother tried her best to go all around looking for help but she didn’t succeed or get assistance in any way. I even dropped out of school for three years because my leg was very painful and we went to doctors in the hospitals but they were also unable to help, until I was helped by a traditional healer that is when I started to walk again but it was too late because I couldn’t like I used to.
In the year 2000 I went to Tshilidzini Special School in Thohoyandou, attending from Grade 5 until Grade 7, then 2001 I heard about the Letaba –Helen Franz Bursary Scheme which will be known as KG Maluleke Memorial Program, which takes a top Grade 7 learner from the following schools: Helen Franz Special School, Letaba Special School and Tshilidzini Special School and place them in mainstream schools up to Grade 12, I managed to study hard and was elected as one of the beneficiary and it was an opportunity no one can miss it, I thanked the Lord because it was going to be difficult to further my studies due to lack of financial assistance.
Then I continued with my studies at St. Brendan's Catholic Secondary School and it was in 2006 while in Grade 11 when my grandmother died of a long illness. Then things started getting worse because me and my sister we were now alone and was helping us in any way, we used my grant money to live with it, even if it was hard. I started to perform poorer at school; I ended up not passing my Grade 12 with good marks and failed Physical Science and Biology.
MY EXPERINCE AT ST BRENDANS CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL
It was January 2007 on Wednesday the 10th, It was my first Friday of school and I woke up in the morning and went to the bathroom to take a bath then I dressed up, the matron said we should go out of our dormitories and go to school, here were radios and I couldn’t believe it because at my previous school we sang by ourselves.
After assembly we went door to door, looking for our names in the grade 8 class.
My name was written in two classes, grade 8R and 8D but I went for grade 8R, when we got into our classes we were given some exercise books to cover and I had no covers.
After school people started covering their books and one of the girls gave me a cover which was for my books but unfortunately I didn’t know how to cover books because in my previous school we did not cover the books for ourselves. I remember my friends Xitshembiso and Calphonia who used to help me cover my books at the beginning of the year, but now they are no where to be found. I tried to ask other people in my class but they were all busy.
St Brendan’s is a safe school for everyone and the rules of the school are compulsory for everyone to obey them. At St Brendan’s there are people who take care of us in a special way. We have people who fetch food for us in the dining hall and the matron gives us hot water to bath in the morning.
The school has a better education and it serves people according to their unique qualities and needs. We also have a chance to go to church and praise God in a special way, it is difficult when it comes to climbing up the stairs and it takes 5 to 10 minutes for me to climb especially on Tuesday and Friday where our school lessons are interrupted by 5 minutes so I end up going late to class.
My classmates run faster than me when we go up stairs to attend Vernacular, I also experienced that I must take care of myself and I have to wash my clothes on my own although at home my mom washes my clothes because she says they are not clean.
But when I came to St Brendan’s I was able to do all the things for myself, I remember my mom who always washed my plates after eating, she did almost everything for me and that made things difficult for me at school.
Every weekend it became so difficult for me to do my laundry or even making my bed in the morning. Same applies in terms of drinking water at home I used to ask my siblings to go and fetch water for me so I could drink but at school I had to do everything on my own.
What I do at home is to wash my face, brush my teeth and eat breakfast, after that I watch T.V or listen to music then late in the afternoon I will go to the public phone and call my friends if I have money, but at school I have to read books, wash my clothes on weekends and write my home works.
I like the experience I received at St Brendan’s because am responsible now.
My name is Mathiane Juliet, I was born in Ga- Matlala Ga-selolo. I am 27 years old lady and I love my age drastically and am not ashamed of it at all. My disability is Polio, I wasn’t born this way, and the disease just emerged as I grew up. It started at the age of 9 years. I am currently schooling at Harry Oppenheimer Agricultural High School in Grade 11 and will be doing grade 12 in the year 2010, before I was at Helene Franz Special School.
I came to Harry Oppenheimer Agricultural High School in 2006 and I started in Grade 8. the first time when I come to this school I was ashamed thinking that people would judge me and say that am old, only to find out that the people surrounding me are my classmates and were good so they accepted me as I am and helped me where I couldn’t . I started my Grade 8 at the age of 24 and to be honest I didn’t face any challenge that would force me to want to leave the school.
This bursary scheme has brought too much maturity in my life, to tell the truth I didn’t know the path I was going, but since I got it I have realized what life is and that it is never too late to reach what you want to achieve.
Lastly I would love to thank Dr. Sathekge and the organization, if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today.