Last week gave us the greatest pleasure of attending Ngqabutho’s graduation our first ever at YHIIU. Ngqa is 16 and he was introduced to us at the age of 14 in 2013. At the time of our involvement Ngqa had been out of school for a couple of years and his background was rather complex. He became one of our first scholarship recipients.
I (Vu) met Ngqa personally in January 2015 when I did one of our regular home visits during my first extended mission trip to Zimbabwe. It was difficult to engage him in conversation. He wouldn’t speak or answer to simple questions like What is your name?. It was then that I understood the impact of the complexity of his background. He was extremely tense and it was difficult to watch.
At school Ngqa was experiencing difficulties. He didn’t fit in well in school due to many reasons; he had been out of the education system for a while, he was way older than most kids in his class and as a result, he was teased a lot and he also ended up being a bully along many other issues. We tried many approaches to help his situation but they barely scratched the surface. We provided him with extra tutoring to help him catch up in school and make up for the years he had lost. It helped but not by a tremendous great deal. Eventually, we took him and some of our other scholarship recipients with similar issues to an educational psychologist for an assessment to ensure that we offer targeted and holistic support and do right by our children.
In April 2015 we took Ngqa and some of the other children in YHIIU to a leadership camp. He was still quiet however, when the boys started playing soccer Ngqa became so alive. The transformation was so dramatic and such a joy to watch. Suddenly he became this chatty outgoing fellow who made friends so easily. He formed really close friendships with fellow participants but in particular this girl called Mitchy. She literally took him under her wing and adopted her like a young brother. Those two were inseparable. Ngqa also loves dancing, and boy can he mooooove; Jagger and his moves have nothing on our Ngqa. He grew in confidence and I couldn’t have enough pictures of him taken. I was reminded of how he flinched the first time I took a picture with him and during this camp he came to ask to take a picture with me.
Mid 2015 Ngqa began to lose interest in school completely while we were trying to find other ways to help him. We were ready to do whatever it took to help him. He had grew in confidence by then that he came back to us and explained he didn”t have a desire to continue with primary(elementary) school anymore. He said he had heard of a Motor Mechanics course offered by an institution in town and he really wanted to do that instead. We were initially concerned as he still had significant challenges in reading and writing. Our hearts were set at ease when we visited the institution and found out that they catered for people like Ngqa by offering students opportunities to take oral exams instead of written ones. So we happily supported Ngqa in this new journey. What brought us the most joy was the fact that he had come to a place where he took charge of his destiny.
On the 18th of November Ngqa graduated with a certificate in Motor Mechanics having completed the theoretical part of his course. He will spend the next year working on attachment to solidify the skills he has learned and also to gain the much needed experience. The atmosphere at graduation was electric, I have never seen a happier group of people graduate. Of course there was lots of dancing and Ngqa was right in his element.
This walk can be difficult sometimes and filled with moments that require leap after leap of faith that test our endurance more often than is comfortable. However, moments like these remind us why we started on this journey to begin with. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Now, THIS is what it’s all about! Loving, educating and protecting..