Greener pastures for Hanover Park pupil

Proud grandmother, Yvelyn Finnies, with her granddaughter Nabeelah Titus, and her teacher at Summit Primary School, Emma Blaauw. Nabeelah was accepted at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

A Hanover Park girl’s dream of becoming a doctor has become much easier to achieve, thanks to her being accepted at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Nabeelah Titus, a Grade 7 pupil at Summit Primary, was among those selected to start high school at this prestigious institution, based in Johannesburg.

Teacher Emma Blaauw, who facilitated the application process for Nabeelah, is over the moon that she was accepted and is confident that she will represent Summit Primary, her family and her community well.

“I asked a colleague at Belmor Primary to pass on application forms to me, as one of their pupils was accepted last year. We have many capable children at our school. Yes, we might be poor, but our children have so much potential. Many of them are bright, but fall through the cracks. Nabeelah was the only one from our school who was selected to go to Johannesburg. This was the third round in the process. I told her she has the ability to do this, and that she needs to pray. After this round we waited anxiously for the home visit. However, it took a while to hear anything after the home visit. I even asked my colleagues to help us pray. When she told me that she was accepted, I started to cry. I told her she must grab this opportunity with both hands, because God is giving her an opportunity to have the world at her feet,” Ms Blaauw said.

Principal Irfaan Isaacs said this revelation was all a surprise to him. He was not aware that Ms Blaauw helped Nabeelah apply for this, but when he was informed that she was accepted, it took him back to about 10 years ago, when he walked alongside Tarryn-Leigh Jeffries, who was also accepted to complete her schooling at the academy.

“If one looks at the socio-economic condition of Hanover Park – even if you have strong academic background, chances of making it to tertiary level is not so great, as it is expensive. Nabeelah is the rose among the thorns. For many children, everything is right, but the environment militates against them, as there are no role models and gangsterism is rife. We try to create opportunities, and even have a bursary award to help pay school fees. The Oprah Winfrey Academy is another opportunity to create an ideal environment to make something of her life. This is manna from heaven. I was in seventh heaven when Tarryn-Leigh was accepted, and I even cried tears of joy when she left,” Mr Isaacs said.

Nabeelah said she was sad to leave her beloved community and family, but is excited for the opportunities awaiting her.

“The tests were difficult, but I still kept my confidence, because I prayed a lot during that time. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor – since I was small, and now that does not seem so impossible. I want to thank Ms Blaauw, because if it was not for her, I would not get this opportunity,” she said.

Nabeelah, and her older sister Fasiegah, are both being cared for by their grandmother, Yvelyn Finnies.

Ms Finnies could not be prouder of Nabeelah and Fasiegah, who is in Grade 11.

“I am very proud. I thank God all the time for the strength to be able to raise the two of them. It was not easy, but it is worth it,” she said.

Mr Isaacs said Nabeelah must also use this opportunity to set a good example to open the doors for others.

“Our children need positive role models like Nabeelah. This year was a tough year for us as a school, because of the gang violence. Our children were either traumatised and have anger management issues. Yet, look at what Nabeelah achieved. She is a role model for every child on the Cape Flats. We need more positives like her in our community,” said Mr Isaacs.