Graduate’s long wait

Luyolo Mkentane

A PORT Elizabeth woman waited 14 years to pursue her dream to be a social worker – and will finally graduate this month from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

But it has not been an easy road for Nozuko Monde, 37, from Zwide, who now works as a social worker at the Child and Family Welfare Society in Uitenhage.

Monde, who is originally from Maxhegweni village in Peddie, passed Grade 12 with university exemption in 1994, but had to wait 14 years before she could enrol at NMMU for a BA degree in social work in 2008.

“I could not further my studies after Grade 12 because no one was working at home and on top of that we didn’t know anything about bursaries.

My father died when I was only 10 years old. My mother Nobukela worked in various community projects in the area earning R62 a month to support our family, but she also got support from social workers,” Monde said.

“I came to PE in 1995 to work as a shop teller. I stayed for a year before going back to help my mother run a creche at our village.

“I received training and a certificate in early childhood development from the Department of Education.”

Monde was later approached to teach Grade R pupils at Zanolwazi Primary School by principal Norman Fumba, who encouraged her to follow a career in social work.

“Because of all the meetings I used to hold with social workers at the school, Fumba noticed my passion for social work. I used to engage with pupils and refer them to social workers to assist in their homes.”

Fumba and his wife Nolundi, who works at NMMU’s examination department “assisted me in applying for a bursary that covered my registration and tuition fees. I was very excited when I received a letter from NMMU saying I should come and register for my degree because at home no one is a graduate.”

Disaster struck between 2001 and 2008 when she lost her older sister, brother, mother, aunt and cousin, leaving her to care for four children which were not her own.

“There were so many ups and downs. If it wasn’t for the church I don’t know where I would be,” she said.

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