“I’m Luyanda Mahlasela. I’m a hard worker and a go getter. To most of my peers and the young ones I am a role model.

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As a volunteer at Ikageng, I’m doing what I really like. I like to be a care giver because I meet many families with different challenges. When I first enter a family home I start by telling them who I am and what kind of a person I am. I also tell them what makes me feel good after so many struggles.

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I am motivating the Youth not to lose hope. I am telling them to believe in themselves because I’ve been there, lived through most of the struggles they are going through. I encourage them to speak about what they are dealing with because, I know, when you cough out what is inside you, you get cured.

Some people don’t take me seriously but that doesn’t stop me.

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In future I would like to help people in need. I would like to become a social worker. I am hoping to further my studies next year and enroll in social working studies.

The reason I want to get more involved in social work is because I’ve been faced with so many challenges in my life; I lost my father while I was still young. The worst part is that he died on my hands. I will never forget that picture my entire life.

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I struggled during high school because my mother didn’t have a good job and I found it difficult because some of my school mates used to laugh at me. I had no uniform, no stationary and also no money to carry to school.

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Things got more difficult when my mother was arrested for assault. She was sentenced before the opening of school in January 2008. I was about to do Matric. It was hard. No it was too difficult for me. I had to put food on the table for my younger brother and look after him. He is seven. He has a speech impediment.

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At the same time I have to study. And I have to pay rent. I have been struggling so much until I got into Ikageng – this is when I could put focus on my studies again.

“I want to help others because I got help when I didn’t know how to carry on.”

It’s God’s will that I’ve passed Matric without re-writing. I believe in God because if it wasn’t for Him I would be out on the streets, doing drugs, in bad company, involved in a gang…

God created something for a reason. Who knows if my mother wasn’t arrested I would never have gotten a chance of furthering my studies – a chance to brighten my future, a chance for my young brother to get treatment.

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Nathalie Boucry Photography | Faces of a New Generation | Bhonga 012That is why I believe in God. Anything is possible when you believe in Him.

You have to believe in yourself! Success is in your hands!

Thank you God, Mom Carol, Nkosazana and all the Ikageng staff!!!”

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