Star Manenberg matriculant Muneesah Abrahams wants to become a tutor for underprivileged children once she has completed her tertiary education.
Muneesah, 17, earned three distinctions and a Bachelor’s pass in the 2017 National Senior Certificate examination.
She scored an 80% aggregate and can now look forward to a bright future but this was not an easy achievement.
The Leadership College pupil had to study for her final exams with the sound of gunfire in the background as gang fights crippled the community.
Muneesah developed a plan to sleep early in the evening and wake up early in the morning to study in peace as most of the gang violence erupted at night.
Besides the gang violence in the area, a lack of privacy at home also made her final year challenging as it affected her concentration and ability to study.
She lives in her grandfather’s house and shares a room with her mother and three younger siblings. Both her parents are unemployed.
“Sometimes it was difficult to go to school because of the shooting and someone was shot right in front of our house. I would just ignore the shooting and stay inside which wasn’t difficult because I prefer being inside,” she said.
Muneesah got distinctions in Afrikaans, life science, and life orientation.
“I was a bit disappointed as I hoped for at least five distinctions but I am planning to have three subjects remarked,” she said.
Muneesah has applied to study mathematical statistics at the University of Cape Town and astronomy at the University of the Western Cape.
“I find science very interesting as there is always something to learn,” she said.
She said youth needed to get an education to prevent them from joining gangs.
“A big reason they do is because they have no positive role models but they always see the people on the corners who are showing them what life should be like instead of what it could be like.”
She said she used her family’s situation to carry her through all the challenges she faced. “I have learnt from the mistakes of others. My mom told me not to end up the way she did – being unemployed.”
Muneesah’s plan is to come back to the community of Manenberg and give back in the form of tuition for younger children. She said children often lack motivation and she would like to help them to strive to be better and have something to look forward to.
“I have to thank my tuition group Step Abroad and my tutor Anzio Muller who really helped me. I used my struggle to motivate me. Sometimes there was no food or I gave my food to my siblings and it was difficult to study on an empty stomach. Sometimes when I got to school my friends would give me a slice of bread,” she said.
She said another reason for studying in the morning was that she at least had breakfast which meant that she could study better on a full stomach. “My advice to other pupils is to work hard and find something to push you. Think about your future and don’t stay in the moment. Have faith in God; I would pray every time before I wrote an exam and it helped me every time,” she said.
Mother Zulpha is extremely proud of her daughter. “I know that she could have achieved better results but I am still very proud of her. I always told her to make something of herself and never to depend on a man so that if things go wrong, she will be okay. I told her to work hard and to use me as an example,” said Ms Abrahams.