Thandy’s story

I was born in 1990 in a small village called Schoemansdal, in the Nkomazi region. I spent all my childhood years in this village. Growing up I lived with my mother and my three younger siblings, a younger sister and two younger brothers. My mother was the closest relative I knew and she was our primary care-giver. She worked really hard to provide for us.

I loved her very much and she the only person I looked up to. One day she got ill and became weaker and weaker each day until she couldn’t work anymore and I had to drop out of school to look after her.  The most heartbreaking thing I ever had to experience was seeing other children go to school while I stayed with my sick mother.

When my mother died I moved into the Good Hope children’s home that was run by Thembalethu.  I went back to school and pretty much everything went back to normal. Having to live in a big family has helped me to grow emotionally, meaning that I learned to empathize a lot. Knowing that we have all gone through difficult time in our lives has helped me to always want to lend a helping hand when someone goes through a rough patch.

I finished my Matric (grade –12) in 2009. In 2011, I enrolled at the University of the Free State, where I am doing a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) majoring in criminology, psychology and sociology.  (note:… during Apartheid, the Free State was the most Afrikaanscentric (White) province in South Africa). I had mixed emotions when I had to move to Bloemfontein in the Free State province. A part of me really wanted the adventure, to experience a new environment which is very different from home but, the other part of me had this strong fear of failure.  What if I don’t make it? What if I stand out from the crowd? (ha, ha, ha….. I don’t have ragged clothes or something that identifies my background, but at times there is this fear that people can see what you’ve been through and judge you negatively based on it).

By the grace of God, I have managed to adapt to Bloemfontein, I have made wonderful friends … “Bloom” is now ‘a home away from home’. Through hard work I have been selected to join ‘Golden Key’ offered to the 15% highest achievers at the university.  By being a member of such a huge organization dedicated to high achievements has changed me tremendously.

A lot of people ask me why I study psychology and criminology. Well, I am more interested in the development part of psychology and juvenile part of criminology, because I believe that good behaviour is shaped at a younger age.  A person’s character, when they are older, is mostly shaped by how they grew up.  I have always been curious on why some children are able to pull through the ashes of life and rise for the better, while others are unable to pull through.

So I want to be giving hope and encouragement to people at a younger age, with the hope that they will get to know who they are and change for the better. I have always had a passion for children and the elderly. I want to stop any crime committed against children which, most times, goes unnoticed.  And in most situations, elderly people go unnoticed or abandoned in communities.  From the experience I gain while doing community service in Bloemfontein, I got to realize how lonely and sad people feel.

Going to the elderly homes in Bloemfontein, with the fear that they are old staunch White Afrikaans people who might reject me –  a young Black woman -I was surprised to find them so loving and welcoming.  Listening to their stories about life, sharing their pictures with me and being there, has made me realize how much they need to be around young people.

I will stop now about my future dreams because I never seem to stop once I get started, but, all in all, this is just a highlight of what I see myself doing in the next 7 years or so.

I am grateful and thankful to Thembalethu for making me realize that I am not the victim of the past. What happened to me doesn’t have to define my future. But I can determine and choose my own path in life.  Without them, I couldn’t be where I am today.

(Note: Thandy received a bursary from the Nkomazi Trust which enabled her to attend university)

Thandy completed her degree in 2014 and enrolled in 2015 to study honors at the University of Pretoria. 

In 2016, Thandy enrolled to do her Masters in Criminology at university in Belgium. 

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