FOR 20-year-old Angelique Brown passing matric is more than just an opportunity for a better life, it is a confirmation that anything is possible.
Angelique, who finished her school career last year at Northern Lights in Cotswold, was handed over to the MTR Smit Children’s Haven in Charlo by her mother when she was only four.
Her parents divorced when she was three. It was not long after that her mother phoned the haven to ask if they could take Angelique in.
“They couldn’t afford to look after me,” Angelique said.
The children’s haven became her new home, and the staff and children her new family.
She says she got the encouragement and support to get through her schooling from MTR Smit.
“I have lived here all my life. This place has given me things I never would’ve had. I didn’t think I would pass because the papers were so hard so when I saw my results I was so happy,” Angelique said.
She admitted that her results were average, but just passing was an achievement seeing as the Eastern Cape’s pass rate was the lowest in the country.
Angelique kept her nose in her books and often went to her house mother, Azelma Rowan’s home to study in peace and quiet.
“She made sure I studied. She told me that if I put my mind to it, I would pass. I thought I was stupid, but I made it.”
Having a matric certificate means the world to the young woman who now has a chance to study further and get a job.
She also has a chance to make sure her future family does not end up where she did – in a children’s home, she said.
Angelique, who works part-time at Sense of Beauty salon situated on the haven’s premises, dreams of working as a social worker or a teacher.
“I have lived here [MTR Smit] so long that I know what these children go through, and I love kids.”
She may not have grown up with her own family, but she does not feel sorry for herself.
“I make the best of what I have,” she said.
According to MTR Smit Children’s Haven director Crystal Watson, the matric failure rate at the haven has improved drastically in the last 15 years from 89% to only 4% this year.
“I started here in 1997 when there was an 89% failure rate.
“After we placed children correctly and had them all tested at the NMMU psychology department it dropped,” Watson said.