- Puleng Lelefa’s business while in College provided for her studies as well as her family
Running a business while in college must be unthinkably challenging since they both demand incredible attention and energy. Puleng displayed power and resilience possessed by women to rise above any challenge; but also her story represents what many female learners and students are confronted with on daily basis.
Here is her story courtesy of Genesis NPO’s Siphe Mashece:
My name is Puleng Lelefa, 5th child out of 7. Grew up in Wonderkop village a place surrounded by mines. I went to Maruatona primary school 2001-2006; Tlhapimoruwe middle school 2007-2009 (before it was changed into primary school) then Rakgatla high school 2010-2012. I was the most quite child during my primary school life; always with short hair, my peers mistaking me for a boy; but in Secondary School I loosened up a bit.
The first challenge in my early years of school was bullying. I almost quit school. After reporting it many times it felt like some teachers wanted to see it happening due to their lack of action. I shared a table with this boy who used to punch me out of the blue with no particular reason. He eventually created a reason by drawing a dividing line on the table leaving me a tiny space to work from. If ever I crossed that line by mistake, he would start hitting me. After telling my father about it, he confronted the boy and that was the end of my bullying.
Older men taking advantage of vulnerable girls
My experience studying around Marikana area was fun and bit challenging due to lot of mines surrounding the place. Men without boundaries as long as you are a female irrespective of your age would see it fit to pursue a romantic relationship with you. Promising all the riches of this world. Thanks to my strict father it never even crossed my mind to their promises. I remember when I fell pregnant, the approach from them intensified; they tried to convince me that they will take care of the baby since my parents were unemployed. Many girls that I knew were not fortunate enough to escape the deception and fell for the trick. Some fell pregnant and dropped out of school and of-course things promised to them did not materialize. My father may have not been economically able but he stood up for me against these wolves.
Her business while in college yielded her professional qualification
I am now a registered /professional nurse working at department of health. Studied at Ann Latsky nursing college 2013-2016. Nursing wasn’t really my first choice but due to circumstances I ended up doing it and eventually fell in love with it. My first love was to study Occupational Hygiene: this is about the health of employees in the work place.
I am currently working in maternity ward, assisting mothers to bring the new life in this world and it is the most fulfilling feeling I have ever had. The joy of seeing a new life enters this world. That first breath, and the bonding period between a mother and the new born are priceless moments in my line of work.
Unemployment in a family and how her business while in college saved the day
The struggle of growing up with both parents unemployed; having a child at 16 years has always been the one thing driving me to do better in life.
While in College doing nursing, I was the only one with some sort of income in the whole family. I had to assist my siblings with their kids, my child and my parents. It was not easy but with God by my side I managed. I used to sell tupperware, fat cakes and other food stuffs at college in order to generate that income.
Overcoming negative perceptions to learn critical business trades
I remember my first time selling fat-cakes; I was just scared to tell people that I am selling. But soon people got to know about my fat-cakes and started buying. They would tell me how they want their fat cakes done. But I also learned something very important during this period: at first people were not buying my fat-cakes; on the verge of giving up some of my friends told me to not give up. They ended up helping me market my business in school. I couldn’t care less about those who laughed at me because I knew why I was doing it. The money I raised helped me cover my bus tickets to college, doing my hair, buying toiletries and also helping at home.
It was very difficult to balance my school work and the business which affected my marks; but with hardworking and prayer all was possible. I used to wake up at 2am, prepare the dough, start baking at 4am and by 6:10 am I am on the bus to college. The only time I would schedule to study was the day before a test or exam which meant I stopped baking.
Teachers going an extra mile to help me realize my dreams!
Mrs. Modise was my middle school teacher who had always took me in as her daughter. She would get me clothes of which some I still wear even today. She would most of the time buy me lunch at school and was there for me as a second mother. I was the first person she thought of when her sister told her about the nursing Learnership opportunity they had at the college she worked at.
I was at another school at the time but she sent several people to please tell me that she needed to see me. All the trips to and from dropping my application forms to the college were financed by her. When I went for psychometric tests and interviews she was the one who paid for my travels, food and airtime. When I was accepted to the college Mrs. Modise and her sister bought my first text books and my nursing uniform. They also drove me to Res and would come and visit to check up on me.
It is people such as her and her sister that gives me courage to continue to want to achieve even more.