By: Zipho Meyiwa
Note: Zipho writes the story of two great women,Nomathemba Sibanyoni and Koketso Morathi. This is their story depicted by Zipho.
Our current society is in a state of flux, the trusted institutions of learning which once were tasked not only with teaching, but instilling morals and values in the individual are now overcrowded with insecure, abused, rape victims and immature parents. It will only take teachers who are rooted in Christ to give hope to a growing youth that is already plagued with forced early maturity and many other societal norms that rob the child of a proper childhood.
The school is an institution of learning and support for the learner, but because of the many challenges the learners face, the school has also become a safe haven for some to open up to their teachers with whom they spend most of the time with. We the Generation of today, the novice teachers of today say that “We were made for such a time as this”.
The teaching profession has always been one that has been respected and although no longer respected, it is still sanctified. In my first day at work it was announced that a student in the school had been raped and killed, two months down the line such news has not seized to stop. I have realised that in my teaching career, I am not only a teacher but a mother, an aunt, a sister and a counsellor, 70% teacher 30% care giver. There are learners in my class who are faced with poverty, sickness, abandonment and most recently and in high volumes, rape. These kids need more then support, but someone who understands them and is able to give them hope even in the worst situation. Only now do I see that my past experiences have built me up so that I may help my learners.
Initially I had planned on doing a BSc Environmental Sciences. The moment they asked me to write a maths test I took off and decided I would study education as I had put it in as a second choice. As the year progressed I was definitely sure that I will only do one year of teaching and do LLB the following year. I got to the Law faculty and I was told there was a long waiting list. From then I decided I would carry on with my teaching degree and will do LLB after. After my first practical teaching experience I become obsessed with teaching, educating and getting young people involved and educated. I started getting involved in initiates that go to schools to motivate learners to study further. I started going to schools and giving talks, advising learners about higher education It became apparent to me that this is where I belong.
Growing up was not easy, I have had little to no love growing up. My mother abused me emotionally and continued till the day she died in my arms at the age of 16. By that time I had already mastered how to be emotionally detached. After my mother’s death, my uncle the only source of financial help disowned me. Being in Tuks with no penny whatsoever made me resent my family more than anything. The April recess approached and I would wonder how I would get home, but I look back now and see that even though I was not born again, God knew that I needed to get home and he would get me there. Last year I tried to commit suicide drinking 40 pills with tea and within 10 minutes I thought I was dead. I was terrified of what I had done. I was in hospital for 3 weeks and when I came out they told me I have bipolar and mental issues. My family had been the cause for my breakdown. They have been and still remain the Goliath in my life, but I thank God for them because without them I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. Knowing how it feels to be an orphan, to not be loved and to grow in unfavourable conditions, I am able to relate to my learners and most importantly respond in a way that they want. My past has not stopped me, but I continue to dream and most importantly teach and spread the love of God. I was sharpened, bruised, hurt for a time as this, that others may benefit from it.
The reason why I chose to do teaching is to work and influence young people. My thoughts are that when they leave school that even though they don’t remember the rule of Pythagoras that they may know that there is a God. I think that my teaching career will be the best years I serve God. I believe that I was made for such a time as this because of my past experiences; these have formed me to being who I am. This year we (The Church) recorded for the first time which has been the best thing that has happened to me following my two biggest loses.
The closest people to my heart passed away and adjusting to a life without them has changed my world view, my relationships, my expectations and my responsibilities. After losing my mom I broke down and could only be comforted by the word of God. Immediately after that I had to lift myself up and mother my little sister. I had to grow and become responsible. Normally when I needed something I would call my mom, now everything was on me. I had to be the one to pray. I had to be the one to have faith and to be the one whom my sister relied on for everything. Our schools are filled with many kids just like my little sister and I. Having gone through such, I understand how a young person wants to deal with things. Being able to cater to your learners needs opens avenues of communication.
After the passing of my mother and my pastor, I realised that I had to depend on God for everything and anything. For my learners, they all will be coming from different homes with different customs and beliefs. It is not my place to enforce my God on them, but I know that I have been prepared to teach, encourage, and comfort my learners in one way, which is through Christ. The education profession is one sacred profession and being holistically balanced allows your learners to also be balanced holistically.
During teacher training no one is taught how to handle sensitive issues and it is our duty as Christian teachers to arise and impart the love of God on our growing youth.
We were made for such a time as this!