Vuyelwa Tshoto - A Story of triumph and overcoming adversity

As part of the First Year Student Experience programme, senior students are given a moment to motivate new students to help guide them on how to approach university life. This is a free to air session as students are allowed to share anything about their university experience provided it influences the freshers positively.  This year’s event was held at Green Auditorium in Alice Campus. The moment when Ms Vuyelwa Tshoto took to the stage, boldly and very eloquently, she shared her life story. Hearing the story, the whole auditorium went into a frenzy of emotions. None of us expected such a surreal moment. We often here about child-headed homes in South Africa and have never had to hear someone who lives amongst us share how excruciating and heavy the burden is until this young lady did.

The 16-year-old Bachelor of Social Work student detailed how she had to take the lead in her family at the age of 14. She was not just the first-born but also had to take up the parenting duties, this after they lost both their parents. The then 14-year-old had responsibility to look after her three siblings and to find a part time job in order to survive.

In a very positive and motivating way, Vuyelwa exclaimed how she has no one but God to thank for all the “strength he gave me because if it was not for his mercy and unconditional love I would have given up a long time ago”. She revealed how, ever since she got to Fort Hare she has been utilizing 80% of her NSFAS allowance to sustain her family and herself throughout her studies.

Vuyelwa preached about the need for hope and positive mind-set as being an indomitable combination to straddle through life. She is now doing her third year and is certain she will finish off without a doubt. If this is not a story of triumph and overcoming adversity, there can never be none. She ended her talk with a heartfelt plea to all that “Any kind of help will be appreciated as the situation has affected me emotionally and affects me academically”, she concluded.