I am super thankful to be where I am today, not only is it a dream-come-true, but also a miracle considering my background.
Six months after I was born, my parents had a massive fight and they separated. My mom left me under a tree. They both refused to accept me, so my granny who loved me, took me in. She took care of me until she passed away. I was about three years old and my father was forced to take me in, but he was physically abusive. One particular day, he was confronted by a Christian lady (who later took me in as her son) about abusing me, but he responded in a hurtful manner, which lead to me leaving him. Later on I also lived with my uncle in really bad circumstances, and was rescued by the Richter family who ran a baby home called ABC. It was their policy to only take babies, but by God’s grace, they decided to take me in. They became my family.
“They soon discovered that I have never really gone to school before, so I started formal schooling at age 11.”
They soon discovered that I have never really gone to school so I started formal schooling at age 11. As I was home schooled at first, I could progress quicker than usual. Over the years, God has blessed my academic ability and made a way for me to be where I am today. With the help of the Nevilles and my sponsor, I am now able to do my Cambridge AS Levels, which will enable me to go to university next year. I am planning to study a BA in Marketing and Communications. I love interacting with people and marketing/sales has appealed to me for a long time. I am very excited about beginning this journey!
I have loved my time in Johannesburg. I have gone ice-skating, gone to holiday to the beach and have had many experiences that kids in my situation have not been able to do. The city life is different, but amazing. I would have never been able to come this far in my life, if it wasn’t for the Lord’s hand on my life. He has done so much more that I could have wish for or imagined and I am looking forward to seeing what He has in store.
My name is Antoinette Stace and I am aspiring to be a fashion designer. I have two younger brothers. I like the colours red and turquoise. In my spare time I enjoy art, reading and listening to music. I also enjoy playing netball. My favourite quote for this year is: “The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us”. It keeps me going!
When I first came to Joburg I was extremely excited, but a bit sad, as it wasn’t easy to leave my loved ones behind to start a new unknown life. It was like stepping into a new world. Everything overwhelmed me. I enjoyed every moment and I did things I never thought I would do.
My highlights were going to the sea and ice skating – it was fun because I never imaged doing it! Gold Reef City got my heart pumping with the roller coasters reaching heights where I couldn’t think anymore – all I could do was scream!
I had a mixture of excitement and nervousness when I was preparing to go to school for the fist time. Unfortunately, I got sick so I did not make it for the first day. However, Nonto got to be the tape recorder of that day, whilst I waited in anticipation at home. School was not easy. It required independent learning and for a student to be in control of their school career. I was used to being motivated by merits and detentions but that did not exist in this new school.
I didn’t have much of a social life, so youth group became the reviver of every week. I got very homesick, but social media has helped make that easier. I began to relax and things started working out. I improved on my subjects at school, and forgot that I cried after my first art lesson with Stephanie, my tutor, as I was getting way better at art.
“I knew then that God was the one that had brought me here and that His hand is on my life.”
I began to make friends. I met Dez who was so good to me and took me with her to the Hub church services on Sunday evenings. I began to have hope that life would be great and I began to take one step at a time. Dennis and Nicky Neville has been a great source of support whenever I need it.
One important event made me even more confident. I applied to LISOF School of Fashion to do my BA degree next year and was accepted! It is a dream come true! I knew then that God was the one that had brought me here and that His hand is on my life.
Coming to South Africa has obviously been different from my full 18 years in Swaziland. It has given me a different exposure to things and made me aware of the independent journey I will be embarking on after this year.
As a part of preparing for this, I am using past life experiences and a lot of advice from my family and friends to find out who I really am and what I need to be doing. One slight detail I have come to realise is that I am quite insecure about myself when I am around people I do not know well. I am trying to improve this, as confidence and a lot more self-esteem is what it’s going to take to get me through.
I have loved the whole feeling of a different environment and lifestyle, and personalities of people here at school, church and around. I am learning to accept that certain things are a reality – a part of maturing.
I am completing my high school career this year and will hopefully do well enough to study further. I am struggling with making study and career choices at the moment, but I am trying to not allow this to become too big an obstacle for me as I know I will get there in the next few months. I want to achieve something that will make me happy and will benefit others. I recently visited the University of Pretoria to get more info on the BA degree in Sports and Leisure studies, which focusses on using sport and activities in community development, in developing youth, children or adults. I am quite excited about this being an career option for me as I love sport and using it for this purpose appeals to me.
I feel blessed with the life changes I have had – from being almost without a chance of an education to a place full of opportunities (from being homeless to going to Bulembu and now being at Home-Base in Johannesburg), I am really thankful and really hope that in as my journey into adulthood and independence, I will grow emotionally, spiritually and mentally in everything that I do. I really appreciate all the people who believe in me and who are helping me achieve great things for the near future – thank you!