From Prisoner to Graduate

Published On: December 13th, 20182.1 min readCategories: Student stories

“We continue to encourage each other. Make it. Suffer well. Do not give up. Do not break down. Do not stop. Do not retreat. Do not cease to believe. Do not back away. Do not stop until it is over. Whatever it takes.” (Dr. Noel Woodroffe). These encouraging words from Dr Woodroffe, remind us that it is not what happens to us that determines our destiny, it is how we respond that determines who we become. So much of our stories as young black South Africans are stories characterized by pain, lack, loss of opportunity and injustice. For too many that is the beginning and the end of the story. This was Matome Machaba’s beginning, but it certainly is not the end of the story for him. Here is his story:

The Beginning

Having been born into poverty in Madabane village, Senthumule district under former Venda government, I soon dropped out of school thinking that I could improve my situation by going to find work. I could only find work by getting on the back of a farmer’s lorry with about 100 others to do menial jobs on a farm. But it was never permanent and there was no future in it. Finding that there was not much work available for a person with no education, I found that I had no opportunities, until finally, one day, I found myself so hungry that I stole food from a farm in order to alleviate my hunger.

Going To Jail

I was imprisoned for a year for my crime. Being in prison caused me to reflect on my life. Was this it? Is this the life that I would lead for the rest of my life? Was this the life that I had chosen for myself? It was the moment of decision for me.

Going Back to the Beginning

After being released, I went back to my old high school and finished my matric. After finishing my matric, I decided to take my studies further through the only affordable means I could find. I did distance learning with iQ Academy. Though it was challenging engaging with the material and login into technological forums for my studies, I received a lot of help from my family and the lectures and tutors from iQ Academy and in the end I was able to graduate. Now my future is looking a little brighter, I have begun on the road to establishing a future for myself.

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