Student Name: Shandukani Phosha
Program: Bonani Work-Readiness Program
I have come too far from where I started off, the road that I travelled has not been easy at all, but I made it. I grew up in a small village in Limpopo called Tshidzini.
I went to Tshidzini Primary School then moved on to Fundzani High School, both in Limpopo. I realized in Grade 10 that I wanted to become an accountant. It was something I always aspired to. That kept me going through the difficulties that confronted me.
When I completed my matric, I wasn’t sure that I would have the money to enroll for a BCom Accounting degree. I grew up under very difficult circumstances. I am not a child that had everything they wanted, and I just had the basics. One thing I knew was that one day I would become an accountant and I would forget all the difficulty. I knew the road was not going to be easy but I told myself that no matter what happened I would make it. No situation would stop me from achieving what I wanted to achieve. I knew that for me to reach my goal, I would have to work harder.
The idea was for me to work hard in my matric so that I can at least get a bursary or some sort of funding to enroll for university. My determination paid off because I performed so well that I was offered some funding for my first year of study at the University of Venda. It was a bitter- sweet moment because I was happy that I had funding for the first year, but I thought what about the next three years? I had to remind myself to stay strong. I applied for a study loan and luckily it was approved. I was now happy and focusing on my studies knowing that my fees would be taken care of. I completed my BCom Accounting degree in 2005 and it was a joyous day for me and for my family. I was finally going to provide and take care of them.
Nothing prepared me for the reality that I was faced with when I started looking for a job. Finding a job proved to be really difficult, so difficult was it for me that I ended up becoming a teacher as a temporary solution. I taught accounting, economics and mathematics. I found joy in teaching these Grade 11 and 12 students but I had a void in me knowing that I didn’t want this. I wanted to become an accountant. I kept on applying for positions in accounting but none was forthcoming.
In 2007, I bought The Star newspaper in Johannesburg as usual, it was now a tradition. I saw an advertisement. Guarantee Trust was looking for accounting graduates for a Trainee Accountant Work-Readiness Program. I applied for the program and I was accepted into it but my heart was torn in two because it meant that I had to leave Limpopo and leave a paying job and go back to study on this program that could make my dream come true. I remember thinking, what would happen to me, where would I stay, what would I eat, what about my family? It was the most difficult situation I had ever found myself in and I had to face the reality that life could turn out to be extremely difficult for me.
I took the chance and chose to accept the consequences that would come with it so I left Limpopo to come to Gauteng.
I remembered a friend who stayed in Kyalami and asked him if I could stay with him and he agreed. This meant that it would take me a few minutes to get to Guarantee Trust Academy where the training would be done. I stayed with him for some time but disaster struck when he lost his job and had to move to another place very far from Kyalami. That meant that I also had to move but where would we go, what would we eat and how would I be able to get to the academy?
It was now my turn to take care of the situation. My friend had helped me so much.
At the Guarantee Trust Academy you get a stipend to enable you to travel to and from the training. I had tough decisions to make once again. I used the stipend to pay for a place to stay and for food for both of us, but it meant that I had walk from where we were staying to the Training Academy. I used to wake up at four in the morning so that I can walk from Centurion to Kyalami in Midrand [ed: about 20 kilometers] and make it for training that started at 8.00 am. I would be so tired because I would have to wake up early and walked a long distance, and it was the same in the afternoon. I would get home when it’s dark. It was dangerous for me but what would I do?
I lost a lot of weight and was always tired. It took a toll on my productivity and energy in class. There were times when I wanted to quit because it was all too much for me. It seemed everything was against me. It was tough, really tough. I held on, I got lots of encouragement from Rey and Thabile [ed: senior training staff], and a good friend at the time. Their words and support kept me going and encouraged me. I had to forget about my circumstances while in class and face them at 4.00 pm when it’s time to go home. That way I was able to at least concentrate in class and learn. I am glad that I could have breakfast and lunch at the academy so that meant that I had to sort out supper and food for the weekend.
Regardless of all this I learnt so much on the program. I completed the program and was placed into employment. Communication skills and professional conduct, everything that I learnt is important because I use all of it daily. When I left the program, I was a step ahead and I was ready to apply what I had learnt on the program. I don’t know how I would have turned out if I hadn’t done this program. These are skills for keeps.
This program changed my life. Today I look back at all the hardships I went through. I look back at the odds that were against me and they are a thing of the past. All things worked together for my benefit, both good and bad. I am now where I have always wanted to be. After the program I was placed into an accounting practice and I have never looked back since then. I took the opportunity and ran with it. ‘Lack’ is a thing of the past for me.
I would like to say to students who are facing what I was facing, hold on and focus on your dream. Don’t look at what you don’t have and then give up, don’t look at the circumstances around you and give up, look at what you want to see at the end of the tunnel and never give up no matter what.
I would like to thank Guarantee Trust and Fasset. You have changed my life and my destiny; my circumstances have changed both personally and financially. I now have a place to stay, food and I can do a whole lot of things that I was never able to do. I am a Debtors Accountant. I am so happy. It all paid off.