Zim-born SA-bred street kid who made good

via Zim-born SA-bred street kid who made good – The Zimbabwean 8 July 2015

Wits law student Solani Sibanda now has a promising life ahead of him – but his future was bleak when he was a homeless young boy roaming the streets of Johannesburg, eating from rubbish bins.

His problems started when his single parent mother died in 1999. He and his five siblings were split up and lost contact with each other until 12 years ago when they met up again. “After her death, I was adopted unofficially by different families… but through these adoptions I found myself a victim of child labour and abuse until I took to living on the streets of Johannesburg for six months,” he remembers.

It was then that Johannesburg’s Twilight Children, Child and Youth Care Centre entered and impacted his life. Eleven years ago, they took Sibanda in and gave him food, clothing, shelter and an education. This enabled him to make a transition from a miserable, impoverished existence in which he even tried to commit suicide, to one where he could develop a useful, responsible career.

Sibanda never looked back. He proved to be academically gifted and became a school leader, serving as president of the Learner Representative Council and secretary for Gauteng District 10 government schools in 2011. Twilight Shelter also organised school holiday work experience with NMG Benefits to enable him to earn a monthly allowance to meet personal costs.

Fees paid

Sibanda finally left Twilight Shelter in 2012, when he moved into residence at Wits University to study law. Twilight Shelter sourced funds to ensure that the promising young student’s fees were paid in full for four years.

“All my progress and success would not have been possible without the help from Twilight Children and its funders,” said Sibanda. He is now on the verge of completing his LLB and preparing to work as a candidate attorney for a Gauteng law firm. In an effort to give back and help other youths to achieve their goals and succeed through education, he tutors and mentors the Grade 12s currently living at Twilight.

“It is also through initiatives like the NMG Charity Challenge and the CEO SleepOut where Andrew Warren, the CEO of MNG Benefits participated recently in an effort to raise funds for children homes such as Twilight, that former street kids like me are able turn dreams into reality. For this, I am eternally grateful,” he said.