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Energy Mapingire knows what hard times mean. Born in Zimbabwe she moved to South Africa. For most people, moving countries is a time of huge adjustment. For Energy, the demands being placed on her meant she had no time for friends or a social life, as all her resources had to be spent on getting an education while helping out at home.


The problem was that the demands were only just beginning. By the time she reached matric, she had lost her father and one of her sisters. On top of these tragedies, Energy, who was living with her bother (she is the youngest of 12 siblings) suddenly had to say goodbye to childhood and become a parent when her sister-in-law passed away.


The responsibilities placed on an 18-year-old new to South Africa continued to mount. Waking up at 4:30 am was the start of her day. She had to leave home by 5am to catch a taxi to schoo,l which was over 45km away. Living this far from school was the first hurdle. The next was getting the education she required to get into university. The school she attended did not offer Life Sciences or Physical Science. A problem for some, but not for Energy who found the time to teach herself these two extra subjects on top of the six she was taking at school. Yet with only her brother to help, she managed to pass matric with six distinctions.


School would finish at 3pm, at which time she would go to her extra lessons, and finish her homework before starting the two-hour journey back home. Her responsibilities changed from dedicated scholar to committed mother as she began cleaning the house, making dinner and looking after her nieces and nephews. At 10pm she sat down to do homework, before finally getting into bed at around 1am.


Energy talks about the struggles she experienced in high school with a smile on her face. She is humble and caring. The only thing that scares her is failure. Scares her, but never stops her. At school, despite the hours of extra work and the sacrifices she made, Energy never stopped worrying what would happen if she didn’t make it. She says: “In life we all face challenges and we can choose not to be the victims of circumstance, but the victors.”
Energy’s story was originally told to Rabbi Dovid Yitzchok Hazdan, by the principle of her high school. Rabbi Hazdan together with the greater community all contributed towards paying for her tuition fees and textbooks. Once this was settled the next challenge was finding Energy accommodation while she attended lectures.


Student Village was so inspired by Energy’s story that we recently assisted in funding Energy’s accommodation at South Point while she settles into her first year as a medical student at Wits.


Energy is proof that those who are patient and get back on their feet every time life tries to knock them down will succeed. Her dream is to be a doctor. A dream a lot of people share. What sets her apart is her motivation to become a doctor. She says: “Money does not satisfy, it is more important to live a life of significance.” She adds that “it is not right that people have to die just because they can’t afford the cost to live.”


Her advice to students is “that there will always be people or situations to blame when you fail or don’t make it, but as an individual, the power is still yours to choose to achieve what you want.”

Epic Discussion

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