The power of one, the strength of many

The way you start a story is what determines whether your reader will continue reading it or switch off and move on to the next interesting thing. If I tell you right now that as I write this I am sitting on a plane to Durban for work and that I am in tears and have been for the past 15 minutes, you will keep reading because you would be curious to find out why I am crying.

If however, I tell you the reason for my tears in this paragraph, you will stop reading because I have given you the answers you needed and highly likely event I that the rest of the story will just be whiny and boring to you. So I won’t tell you immediately why I am crying right now but I will tell you why I was crying last week Friday and how this led to my sobbing today.

I had a horrible day at work last week Friday and afterwards I met up with some fellow young professionals at a networking session we have every month. Usually these get me in a great mood and we end up partying the night away but last week my heart just wasn’t in it and I had to find a quick exit one way or the other. I left to go meet up with my boyfriend. He says as soon as I rolled down the window he knew something was wrong but of course in my mind I am the master of masking my feelings and I don’t believe that he did.

To cut a long story short I was in a financially burdensome place and I had no idea how to get out of it. As soon as I started to explain this to him the tears came, overflowing like Niagara and I had no idea how to cut the water supply (probably because you can’t cut the water supply of a waterfall, smh). I got into Columbia University for my Masters in Journalism and I needed to get $1000 in less than a week. That’s about R10 600 because as we all know, the Rand has some weaknesses and the Dollar is one of them. I was freaking out because my mother’s response was: “Apply for a loan at the bank my girl”. I knew if that was her answer there was genuinely no way he could help me. My mom would give her limbs for me, I know that and so does anyone else who knows her.

As if that wasn’t enough, my salary wasn’t paid to me in full because I missed a deadline for a submission that would ensure this and I had extra expenses. I’m so sure my boyfriend was worried that he had no answers for me but he was there and he told me everything would be okay as long as I believed it and tried not to panic.

The next day, my car wouldn’t start. As soon as that happened I started to calculate ridiculous amounts of money in my mind and I was sure that this was going to be the worst month of my life. Again, I’ll have to cut a long story short and fast-forward to Sunday night when we finally found a way to jump-start my car. I went to church – for the first time in a while – and the message was for us to stop worrying about tomorrow and speak positivity into our lives.

Yet again the waterworks started and I got a headache thinking about just how much I needed to hear that but how these tears were really starting to piss me off. Anyone who knows me knows that I believe in a good cry now and then but that I had stopped crying at some point because at some point life became easier to deal with when I bottled up my emotions. Now all of a sudden I was breaking down at every thought and it was frustrating me.

I only got to the bank on Tuesday morning because of all the public holidays and they told me they couldn’t help me with a loan because I have a contractual job and not a permanent one. I was with my younger sister at the time and I needed to head to work. The tears started again but I held them back because hell, she’s younger than me she has to see that I am a woman of strength. When I got to work I e-mailed my mother – who is in Zambia for work and an uncle who’s been helping me with finding sources of funding for my studies. Neither of them responded.

I looked at my Facebook account and thought of sending messages to my friends and family but then I realised that R10 000 is a lot of money for an individual or a small group of people but if the burden is distributed among many, it is much lighter. I took a leap and started a campaign to get 100 people to donate R100 each. Both my brother and sister thought it was a little out of the ordinary but my brother told me to give it a shot. My sister on the other hand, only told me after I had raised all the money (and more), that when I first sent her the link she thought I was crazy and a chancer. She said after the bank she probably would have said “ay, I guess it’ not part of God’s plan”.

I’m so glad I took a leap of faith because over the past few days I have seen the spirit of Ubuntu manifest in my life and I am so inspired. I learned a long time ago that not all of us believe that there is a God, or that there is only one God and that’s okay. We may not believe in the same spiritual journey but we all have something that binds us together and that is love and faith. We all believe that love exists and each step we take I evidence that we have faith in the fact that we can and will take the next step. I saw faith and love surround me from various corners of South Africa and the world. People I know and those I don’t all spent time and money because they believe in the vision that I have for my life.

This is only the first step. I still need to raise about $90 000 (do the math and you’ll weep), for tuition and my living expenses. With the extra money I raised I will open an interest-bearing savings account (advice from my Aunty Brodie), towards that. If I ever doubted that at the end of July next year I will be jetting off to Columbia University in The Big Apple aka Empire State, aka New York City – I definitely have no doubt in my mind now. I believe that I will and I know that I have the backing of an army because they showed up and changed my life forever.

I am not crying anymore. I’m sitting in the arrivals terminal waiting to be picked up. Now that you’ve read to the end though, I’ll let you know why I was crying. I cried because I was overwhelmed by a love I thought didn’t exist anymore. I cried because I witnessed a genuine excitement for me from people who didn’t know me and those who did. I cried because I have always struggles with being co-dependant. My mom might never agree to this but she knows I am the most independent of her children. I take pride in being able to do things for myself but this week I was taught a great lesson in humility. I asked for help and I got it. I leaned on people and they helped me stand.

Ndi muthu namusi nga vheiwe – I am because of you.

Thank you.


P.S. We might just have to change #HelpShandugotoColumbia to #ShandugoestoNewYork hehe. 🙂

8 thoughts on “The power of one, the strength of many

  1. Beautifully written and you have brought tears to my eyes. It took me only few seconds to decide the night before last, that my R1000 belonged to you, your gutsy initiative and your dream, rather than another dress or pair of shoes in my cupboard. Your passion and eloquently humble way of sharing your need with us, touched my heart and I’m thrilled to be a part of your journey to greater things. I will continue to try and help you in any way I can over the next year, to ensure you get to NY and make us all proud here at home. Much love and good luck. xxx


  2. Such a beautiful and inspiring story. Everything is possible with faith and hope. May God continue to bless you on this amazing journey your life is taking.


  3. This is sooo inspiring….♡ So excited to be one of many sharing in ur next big adventure♡ Go Shandu!


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