Sandisiwe Mdluli (15) aka Sandi was one of the fortunate few in the Transnet Orphans Programme that actually, for the first time, flew in to Johannesburg for the Life Skills Workshop. “An amazing experience,” she exclaims. “I was a bit stressed by the possibility of a crash, but also excited and couldn’t sit still. At take-off, it was scary but fun and my tummy started turning, but I soon relaxed and enjoyed the ride. I surely can do it a million times,” she explains.
In March 2013, the Transnet Foundation held a powerful and intense Life Skills Workshop at the Esselen School of Excellence where the youths on the Transnet Education Portfolio were drilled and vigorously put on their paces by highly skilled facilitators on life skills.
The workshop, which ran for the entire week was so beneficial to the youth and hit on areas such as how they should conduct themselves around other people in general. Sandisiwe, one of the bright sparks on the programme doing grade 10 at Penryn College in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, says so much was learnt during the course of that week.
“We learnt that success is not something that's just given to you on a silver platter, you need to do your part as well. We were reminded of how appreciative we must be for every little thing we have because there are many people out there who are not as fortunate as we are,” says Sandi.
She is of the philosophy that for one to succeed, one needs to work hard and that when days are dark you have to remain strong as that will not remain so forever, you will eventually pull through. The Transnet bright spark describes herself as someone who loves laughing with friends, with a strong sense of humour. “I can be moody at times, especially when I'm stressed, but I immensely enjoy spending time with family and friends. I am also one person terrified of being shouted at,” she says.
Sandi was one of the fortunate orphans Transnet has taken aboard as its own. She was brought on to the programme in 2012 and she says when she was informed that she had been recruited on the programme, it was the most amazing feeling and could not believe that she had been that fortunate.
Sandi was diagnosed with an eye condition Myasthenia gravis at a very tender age. With this condition, her eye lids muscles collapsed. She has been treated for that and the ophthalmologist still has to determine whether this condition is still there or not. Her current condition – Keratoconus – is a condition whereby the cornea in the left eye is thinning out. Transnet Foundation has paid for her eye treatment and she will be getting contact lenses. The Foundation will also pay for her follow up treatment. Despite all these challenges Sandi plays football in her school and she is passionate about soccer.
Asked if the programme had turned out to be what she had expected, Sandisiwe says: “No, it has actually turned out to be so much more than what I had ever expected. I never knew so many things could be given to one person at once”.
In conclusion, Ms Theresa Moila, Senior Manager: Education at the Foundation says: “It was a very fulfilling workshop. These youth will join Transnet as their employer of choice. They are already Transnet brand Ambassadors of note and I just love their energy, zest for life, positive outlook, despite their challenging backgrounds. They are defining and carving a bright future for themselves.
“The programme started in earnest and was very exciting by the minute. Our youth were amazing and thanks to Transnet for affording them the amazing opportunity to excel”.