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Meet Mary, South African learner

Kayamandi, South Africa

It’s hard enough to do well at school when you live in the Kayamandi township where violence and drug usage are commonplace, let alone when you are just 16 and already have a baby boy.

Warwick in Africa Volunteer Teacher Sarah met Mary when she set up after-school peer mentoring sessions for Grade 9 pupils. Sarah noticed that Mary was working conscientiously during classes and the mentoring sessions, but always asked to leave early. When she asked why, she found out that Mary had to go home to breastfeed her baby.

Mary has always lived in the Kayamandi township and lives with her parents, her two young brothers and her one year old son. She has no contact or support from the father of her son, but thankfully her own parents have been very supportive which has enabled Mary to return to school.

Mary is repeating her Grade 9 year, having dropped out of school when her baby was born. Sarah saw how keen she was to improve her maths and suggested they meet for lunchtime tutoring sessions. Mary has flourished thanks to this extra support and is now on track to do well in her exams. She hopes to attend university and aspires to become a business woman or social worker so she can create a better future for her son.