How I Loved, Failed,
Lost & Found Love Again
Go to my Professional Qualifications, Experience and Methodologies
By conventional standards, I've made poor choices in my life.
I've known failure more than success.
What a beautiful road less travelled. NOT despite my pain but because of it. I wouldn't change a thing.
They say I have a super high genius IQ. They must be wrong because I sighed my way through school. I once received a certificate of excellence. Typically, I lost it. No one believed me. Year after year, I barely made the 40% grade needed for a pass. It’s astounding I completed at all.
In Grade 6, I earned the nickname ‘Pig Pen.’ I was a tomboy. My poor mother’s reputation was in ruins. Despite her best efforts, I looked as if she bought me no clothes. I, of course, lost everything faster than she could afford to buy. I was untidy, unkempt and played in the mud. I didn’t want to look pretty like all the other girls. I sucked my thumb until I was 12.
I excelled neither at my academics nor in sports. I avoided debating teams, clubs and school representative councils.
After repeating matric, university allowed my rebelliousness to breathe. No one seemed to care much about my comings or goings. I made it to honors class – barely attending academic lectures – without files or books. There are many students I have to thank, for lending me their best essays before exam time.
I didn’t fare much better in my romantic relationships. My first real boyfriend helped to ensure I ended up in jail at 17. I fell in love with drug addicts, gangsters and womanizers. I've known what it's like to feel broken.
On top of that, mostly, I’d made very little money in my life.
But change the rules of what determines success or failure, of what determines a love and I could tell you a different story...
While students were to be found in classroom libraries, I played with snakes and baby wolves in a volunteer programme. Real lives ones you may ask?
Yes, I did indeed.
I rode my bicycle down the steepest of hills, with my eyes closed. I jumped off rooftops and pretended walls and trees were gymnastic beams and bars.
I spent my weekends, with my mother’s help, taming a horse deemed too wild. The world was ready to put him to sleep. With this horse, I found myself in 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at show jumping tournaments.
Here I learned anything is possible. It’s a miracle of something much greater than me that I never broke a bone.
When I ventured into Hillbrow, it wasn’t because I was running. The streets fascinated me. In the red light district of Boks Street, I made Maxim’s my home. I loved it.
Befriending commercial sex workers opened up a secret world. Here I was taught to tell men old enough to be my father, “I’m not here for business.”
This is code for ‘I don’t sell sex.’
Here I learned kindness comes from everyone and the subtle ways of looking after myself in an unsafe world. I didn’t feel unsafe. I felt invigorated. It’s a miracle of something much greater than me that I lived to tell this tale.
During school, rather than stewing in Maths, I took my makeshift raft down the Jukskei River at flood time. Or on a hot summers day, I swam fully clothed in the bilharzia infested waters.
Here I learned to not fight currents, and that water is stronger than I could ever be.
I ventured at 3am to the dark corners of Bree Street taxi rank – to rescue a girl of 10 years, kidnapped and sold into a pornographic ring.
I moved into a shelter for street children because the children in Braamfontein said they would go if I went. So I did – for 18 months.
Here I learned about my own courage and my capacity to serve.
My first job took me to the far corners, of what was then, one of the most rural areas in the country, on the southern border of Mozambique during the years of KZN violence. The closest bank was 2 ½ hours away. With my possessions in the back of a borrowed bakkie, I kept company with the sounds of Sibongile Khumalo on the six hour drive.
Here I learned to live without running water, and that if you sleep on the banks of a lake – a hippo is likely to sleep next to you. How was I to know?