By Ntsako Mbhokota.
As a journalist, I travel a lot looking for interesting stories around our communities. Towards the beginning of 2010 I finished shooting a documentary titled “A woman’s worth”. In the 1 hour 30minutes film I interviewed 5 young women from Orange Farm who had dropped out of high school. The aim was to establish if they were just incompetent individuals or women who were simply denied the opportunity to transform themselves. Orange Farm is known to a lot of people as a place of crime, poverty and other horrible social ills. Living in such an area can be hampering to anyone’s social development as many youths find themselves involved in drugs, and crime.
As part of my investigation, I visited the girls on a daily basis to see how they live. I made myself comfortable enough to allow them to open up to me as I wanted to establish the cause of their decision to leave school. Every individual has a story to tell. Out of all the stories of the young women I was mostly touched by *Dipuo’s (name has been changed for protection of privacy). A single mother living in an RDP house with six other family members. She survives on a social grant income of R250 per month. This is also the money which she uses to help out around the house with groceries and other supplies. After she finished washing on a cold rainy day we sat down for a girl to girl chat and I asked her where the father of her child was. First she kept quiet for some time, her eyes filled with tears but she quickly pulled herself together. “I don’t know” she eventually responded. As she spoke I could see that as much pain as this man has caused her she still loved him. Then I switched on to another subject, “what about school, why couldn’t you finish your matric?” I ask. “I left school because I became pregnant and after I had my child I could not go back because I could not afford day care services and my family had to be looked after.”
I look around the house, there isn’t much at all, on the corner behind the door, there is a plastic full of sweets and snacks. She mentions that she sells them to make a little profit so that they can buy food sometimes. As we were chatting she starts preparing lunch for her son, she complains that there isn’t cooking oil but that does to seem to bother her much as she is used to it. She prepares excess fat of malana from mogodu (tripe) with tomato. As i fought back the tears in my eyes, I knew that it was time for me to leave. On our way out she talks to me about her dreams, “i want to be a social worker, I want to help the people in my community” she explains. I believe her because she sounds absolutely convinced. She sounds like a really intelligent girl who has scarified so much at a young age.
On my way home I start thinking about my encounter with her today and I ask myself one question, if she was given the opportunity to go forward wouldn’t she become a much better person in our society? Of course she would and plough back some of that love and care back to her community.
All I want to express is that if the government can really look at a way in which they can really empower young black women by making sure that education is not an impossible mission to achieve our society can really change for the better.
Ntsako Mbhokota is a Johannesburg freelance writer and online editor of Transform SA magazine, you can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org