Meet the Woman Who Beat the Odds - Sonto Dhladhla

10 May 2017

The more educated you are, the more you can improve your life. That’s just a fact. Education opens doors to opportunities to improve your life, as well as the lives of your family. Unfortunately, not everyone in South Africa has access to an education. Certain sectors within our communities struggle to get the education they need to find employment or get the backing to follow their entrepreneurial dreams.

This all adds up to a pretty hopeless situation, but for people who take the leap, stay the course, and commit to their future, education is achievable. One of these people is Sonto Emmelina Dhladhla (53), so read her story and let it fill you with hope for your own destiny.

Scrambling through the dark
Like so many South Africans, Sonto was raised by her grandparents while her parents worked in Johannesburg. Her grandparents then passed away, which made a tough situation even worse.

Sonto often went to school barefoot and on an empty stomach, regardless of the weather. During the winter season, she would risk her life crossing flooded rivers. Says Sonto, “My circumstances didn’t destroy my determination to learn, but gave me courage and hope to carry on, because walking on that frost and crossing those flooded rivers was the only way I could be the success that I am today.”

In addition to her determination, Sonto also relied on her intelligence. In spite of these hardships, she became a top achiever at school. Before things got better, however, they became more complicated and testing, starting with the loss of her father. Then, whilst finishing Grade 10, she fell pregnant and dropped out of school to find work as a domestic worker.

“Sometimes, I would cry myself to sleep and wake up with red, swollen eyes, because I felt like my life was over.”

Turning a corner
One day it occurred to Sonto that she was too intelligent to let one mistake ruin her life and she decided to go back to school. Going back with much younger classmates who mocked her for her age was just another obstacle that Sonto would face on her journey towards a better life. Deciding not to let it overwhelm her, she became the top performer in her class, successfully matriculated, and went on to get a Diploma from the University of Limpopo.

Still wanting to be further equipped for the future, Sonto registered with IQ Academy to do a Higher Certificate in Business Management. Unfortunately, her mother became critically ill with cancer, causing Sonto to hit pause on her studies while she cared for her. Sadly, her mother passed away during Sonto’s exams and she failed. She persevered and rewrote her exams a short while later.

This time she passed.

Going the distance to win her race
Balancing work, family, and studying was also a challenge. As a proud mother, she struggled to prioritise her finances, family responsibilities, and her job as a manager within the Department of Health. Sonto communicated with her tutors and lecturers, receiving guidance when it came to managing her time, and clarity to help her better understand the course material. She also made sure to meet her financial obligations by putting family outings and holidays on hold, cancelling her accounts, sticking to a tight budget, and selling jackets and winter hats.

The future is bright
“Getting where I am today was not easy at all, because there were difficult times when I thought of giving up… but I am not the type that gives up easily and I am glad that I didn’t.”

Having achieved her goals, Sonto is now in a position where she is equipped to handle more responsibility in her workplace and is in the process of expanding her business, which she believes will soon be her main source of income.

“I want to encourage my fellow students and youngsters out there to work hard, be determined, abstain from your social life, if you want to achieve your goals, reach your destiny, and enjoy the finer things in life.” Create your own story and whatever the challenges you face, IQ Academy is here as your trusted partner in education.

Author: Blackbird Copy