I am Nontobeko Noluthando Khumalo, and I am from Makhukhula in Vryheid, a deep rural village in KwaZulu Natal's Zululand District. I would like to express my gratitude to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF) and Humana People to People in South Africa (HPPSA) for their faith in me.In 2017, I was hired as a community health trainer, through this partnership between NMCF and HPPSA. I will never forget the impact it had on my life.Being the breadwinner of my family, I was able to support my family and pay for my education with the pay check I received. I applied to SANTS in 2016 for a Diploma in Grade R Teaching prior to joining Child Aid Abaqulusi project.During my first year, I used the little savings I had accumulated from other community projects.

During my second year, I did not have a plan, and I trusted in God to create one, even though I did not know how it would come about. In 2017, my uncle told me that he spotted job advert in the Abaqulusi Municipality offices asking for applicants with matriculation and HIV/AIDS counselling. Within a few days after submitting my application, I was called for an interview, followed by a confirmation of being hired. I was overjoyed because God heard my prayers. I knew I would finish my diploma after confirmation. When we arrived at the HPPSA offices to sign our contracts, the Project Manager and her deputy gave us an orientation, explained their collaboration with the NMCF, roles and responsibilities for the work.

While working during the week, I attended some classes on Saturdays. When our initial contract expired, I was unable to pay my fees and provide for my family. After 6 months of wondering where I would find another job, the contract was renewed, and I was able to complete my Diploma in Grade R teaching by 2019. I subsequently opted to continue my education by earning a Diploma in Education in Foundation Phase Teaching. Things changed in 2020 due to COVID-19. We were not able to attend several classes because we did virtual learning. and I did not have a laptop. As part of the funding provided by the NMCF, Humana People to People in South Africa provided us with tablets to use when recording houses when we conduct home visits.Although the network was challenging, I would work throughout the day to register the houses.

After following up with mom and baby, checking pregnant women, giving health talks at the clinic, I would then work on my school work using the tablet over the weekend or in the afternoon. My colleagues and I started Stokvel at work, so when it was my turn, I would use all my money to pay my school fees, so I was always financially responsible. As our contract ended in 2021, the tablet was taken back, and then I had difficulties providing for my family and paying my fees. I didn't stop praying. Poncilia Mazibuko, the Child Aid Abaqulusi Project Leader, informed me that NMCF authorities would be visiting to assess our project. I was overjoyed since I expected the contract to be renewed again. Unfortunately, it was the end of funding contract.  

I was distraught, but their visit had a positive outcome since the CEO Mr Maphosa heard my cry and paid the remaining portion of my tuition in full. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am now a holder of Bachelor of education in foundation phase teaching graduate. Thank you once more, Nelson Mandela Children Funds, for covering my costs, and may God bless NMCF CEO Mr. Maphosa.  My sincere appreciation goes to Humana People to People in South Africa and Nelson Mandela Children's Fund CEO for hearing, understanding and coming to my rescue.Thanks to you, I now have the opportunity to look for a permanent job with a professional qualification.

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