Tsepo Damoense (21) is another Carryou Ministry success story.
The youngster could easily have slipped through the cracks and become yet another member of South Africa's lost generation. Instead, he is well on his way to qualifying as a school teacher.
Tsepo was born in Munsieville, Krugersdorp and in 2003 moved to the Northern Cape to live with his mother and her parents. But a year later she died and, in December 2004, the youngster was sent to stay with an aunt in Toekomsrus, Randfontein.
In 2006 his aunt died and a cousin came to take care of him.
"A little while later I started visiting the Carryou Drop-in Centre in Toekies," he says. "There I was given a daily meal and counsellors were always ready to help. They were like family to me. They encouraged me to work hard at school and, in 2009, I passed matric but failed to apply for university-entrance in time."
"I'd been helping out as a volunteer at the Drop-in Centre during school holidays and decided to continue doing so," he says, "and, in April the following year, I was appointed to be part of the government's Extended Public Works Programme at the drop-in centre.
"I wanted to give something back to Carryou and did whatever was needed. I cooked, cleaned, ran errands, did typing and admin, helped kids with homework...whatever I could.
"But my dream was always to be a teacher, as I love working with kids," says Tsepo. "In October 2010 I registered for a degree in teaching at the University of Johannesburg but had to deregister at the start of the next year, as I simply did not have the money required, and continued to work at Carryou.
"Then I applied for and was granted a government student loan by the National Student Financial Assistance Scheme."
Last year Tsepo Damoense took the first step towards achieving his dream when he completed his first year of studies at the University of Johannesburg. When he qualifies he plans to become a high school teacher, majoring in Historical Studies and Tourism and during his holidays he continues to help out at the Toekomsrus Drop-in Centre.
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