Rhodes’ student overwhelmed by bursary win
A dream come true despite background
THE daughter of a Grahamstown domestic worker has scooped a prestigious Rhodes University bursary, set up in memory of tireless community philanthropist Dr Thelma Henderson, who raised more than R15-million to help 15 000 students realise their dreams.
BSC Honours student Nozuko Ngqiyaza, 21, yesterday said she still could not believe she had been awarded the R30 000 bursary to continue her botany studies.
Ngqiyaza’s proud mother Violet, 65, said the family was hugely honoured that she had been awarded a bursary in memory of the community activist who dedicated most of her adult life to feeding, clothing and educating poor Grahamstown residents.
“I remember Mrs Henderson coming to the township and helping people build many creches. I even met her [once].
“It is a huge honour, everybody loved and respected her – she was a hero.”
As chair of the Grahamstown Area District Relief Association Education for 31 years, Henderson played a huge role empowering marginalised people throughout the district.
Besides her GADRA work, she also established Rhodes University’s acclaimed Centre for Social Development that helped create, resource and uplift more than 40 farm schools as well as many local day care centres and township education centres.
Following her husband, Dr Derek Henderson to Grahamstown in 1975 when he was appointed Rhodes University vice-chancellor, Henderson ploughed her energy into helping nearby poor township residents realise their education dreams.
As the last born of four children to illiterate domestic worker, Violet and her late supermarket cleaner husband, Johnson, there may not have been much money around – but there was no shortage of love and encouragement.
“We prayed everyday that our children would do well,” Violet explained.
Forced to leave farm school with a standard two so she could try and help her parents make ends meet, Violet recalled how she tried her best to help her children with studies even though she was illiterate.
“Even though it was very hard, we can say that all our prayers were answered.”
According to Ngqiyaza, getting the Thelma Henderson Bursary is a dream come true.
“One day I would like to plough something back and help the community.”
GADRA Education manager Ashley Westaway said Nozuko was the perfect example of the type of person the organisation had helped since it was formed in 1957.
“Ngqiyaza and her family represent exactly what the organisation aspires towards, namely a local citizenry that understands the importance of education, and works tirelessly and generously to achieve the very best that is possible in this regard.
“GADRA Education salutes Ngqiyaza and her mother as women who epitomise the magnanimous, determined spirit of Dr Henderson.”
He said the selection panel was singularly impressed by the character, life story and academic journey of Ngqiyaza.
“Despite the limited means of her parents, they consistently recognised the value of education, to the extent that Ms Ngqiyaza is their second child to have graduated from Rhodes University.”
The former Mary Waters High School student said her mother was the pillar of the family who often took in destitute children and helped them realise their dreams.
“She is the greatest mom in the world. I am blessed to have her as a parent.”