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Overcoming adversity: Sihle’s Brew part 1

An inspiring story of overcoming adversity, reaching for every opportunity and building a dream from the ground up.

This is Sihle’s Brew.

Let’s start at the beginning

Sihle’s life began in a small village called Nkandla in KZN. Before long, he found himself relocating with his family to Durban where he completed most of his schooling from grade R. His parents separated shortly after the move.

“My parents couldn’t afford a house, so we lived in a shack at the time,” Sihle explained. “When my parents separated, my siblings and I took my mother’s side.”

When Sihle turned 16, his mother’s health took a turn for the worse. She was asthmatic and had spent most of his life in and out of hospital. She hadn’t been able to work, and so Sihle had taken on two jobs to keep food on the table while also managing by sheer will and determination to keep up with his schoolwork.

“I worked two jobs. One as a gardener during the week and another making pizzas on the weekends, while putting myself through school and taking care of my younger brother and sister.”

While juggling all of this, Sihle’s mom was battling for her life. He went to visit her in the hospital and was met with nurses who wouldn’t let him see her. Sihle was a minor at the time, so the hospital staff weren’t allowed to give him any information about her condition without an adult present.

“I remember going to visit her and was told to go back home to call my elders to come to the hospital. I didn’t understand at the time and I kept asking them why I couldn’t just see her.”

After pleading with the staff for a time, Sihle realised that this was an uphill battle he wouldn’t be winning that day. So he went back home to bring his aunt to the hospital. When they arrived, Sihle had to face the unimaginable; that this would mark the day he’d lost his mom. A pain that lingers softly in the corner of every important moment in a person’s life.

“When my mother passed away in King George hospital, I didn’t have the money to bury her.”

Sihle had the gardening job at the time, but it simply wasn’t enough money to cover the cost. Something no 16-year-old boy should ever have to overcome, much less alone, in the swells of grief. Sihle had to face the unimaginable a second time; leaving his mother in the hospital for two weeks after pleading with the mortuary to give his family an extra week to raise the funds.

With support from their community, who helped to raise some of the money, and what Sihle had left from the gardening job, they managed to arrange her funeral.

“I can’t recall his name now, but I will never forget the kindness of the undertaker. He said to me “I know you don’t have money, but if you give me enough for fuel, I will take your mom to the cemetery.”

At this point, Sihle’s father was still around working part-time jobs but was hardly ever home. Sihle and his younger siblings were left to fend for themselves. Being so young, and taking care of them, Sihle battled with finding a balance between playing the parent figure and being a brother.

“I never tried to control them. My sister got pregnant when she was younger, and it was a very challenging time for us.”

But, on the edge of every dark cloud lies a silver lining, and Sihle’s was a call from a friend in Johannesburg, offering him a temporary job opportunity that would shape his path in ways he couldn’t imagine yet.

Read next:

Adcorp presents Sihle’s Brew Part 2: When opportunity knocks

About Adcorp

Across the Group we have a number of end-to-end workplace solutions solving a wide range of business challenges. We search, place, develop, train and manage people for temporary and permanent job opportunities. We also supply people resources on an outsourced basis and manage people-intensive processes on behalf of our clients. Our mission is to build workplaces and careers of the future by transforming the places we work in. We do this by connecting potential.

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