Giving Back! Honey's journey to success
‘SAEP gives you a platform to be yourself. It depends entirely on what you do with the experience that you get here’ - Honey Nkohla Co-Founder of the Black and White.
My name is Honey Nkohla - when I finished my matric in 2010 at Philippi Secondary School. I did not have any clue about what to do with my life and did not apply for university. Besides, I did not have the right marks to get into university, because the programme I wanted to study required higher marks.
I knew SAEP from my principal at Philippi Secondary School. When I went to collect my matric results he told me about SAEP and advised me to apply to be part of the programme, which I did. Unfortunately, SAEP could not get hold of me on the phone number that I provided in the application. Thankfully one of the SAEP staff was eager to have me in the programme went back to Philippi Secondary School to look for any other contact details. Someone who knew me informed the staff member where I could be found and that is how I became part of the Bridging Year Programme.
In 2011, I joined the Bridging Year Programme. What struck me was that it was not the academic component of the programme that gave me confidence but rather the personal developmental lessons that focused on life skills. For example, we used to have small groups where we talked about everything similar to a debate. The facilitators would throw a topic and then we would all engage in that topic. For me, academics were good but I think the confidence is what built me. We all came from different backgrounds - where I come from, I hardly spoke English at home and those who do were laughed at. In my time, the programme awarded individuals who spoke and got good grades in the English language with certificates.
After completing the Bridging Year Programme, in 2012, I struggled to get into university because I needed financial support and accommodation. I am originally from the Eastern Cape and came to Cape Town for school. During my school days, I lived with a relative. After completing my matric, I had to move out of my relative’s house and had no permanent home.
I reached out to Jane and explained my predicament and she made plans for me. Jane contacted people she knew and found a place for me to stay. After some time, in 2012 I started at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville and moved in with Norton and Jane at their home in Rosebank. I managed to commute for a while, and then I informed Jane that traveling from Rosebank to Bellville everyday was difficult. So they both told me to find accommodation. I made arrangements and moved into my new accommodation. Jane drove me to university and when she dropped me off, I felt so good.
At UWC I studied Maths and Statistics. I remember the first time I failed Mathematics at university, my world crashed. But Norton was very supportive and encouraged me to continue studying. There were times when I needed some emotional support and Norton would take me to a counselor. Norton and Jane provided me with a safe place where I could express myself, not judge my experiences, and help me get through my challenges.
When I finished my honours degree, I again faced hardships. I was unemployed and had to find a means to sustain myself. I started tutoring English to second-language speakers in Cape Town. Since the income was not sufficient I had to move to the informal settlement just to survive. The rent R300 a month and I was so depressed.
Time passed by and I teamed up with a colleague to start an NPO called the Black and White. Our vision is to help young people of all races (regardless of nationality) in Cape Town secure employment and acquire skills. All young people are faced with the challenge of unemployment at some stage of their lives. Our programme activities include providing holistic advice, assistance with CV writing, and tips on how to present oneself during interviews. Black and White also provides computer literacy and communication skills. Our mission is to organize young people to stand on their own and find solutions to their challenges rather than blame the government on things that they lack.
I am grateful that SAEP allowed me to pursue my studies. Now I am a holder of a Master’s Degree in Mathematics and Statistics, (also Bachelor’s and Honours Degrees in Mathematics and Statistics) from the University of the Western Cape. I am currently working at the Cape Nature Biodiversity and Conservation in the Western Cape. When Jane came to my honours graduation that gave me more hope that SAEP is home.