The Spectacular Story of a Young Man Who Proves that “Mindset” is Everything

15. That’s how old Oscar Mkhonza was when he lost his mother to illness. Oscar’s grandfather was the only other guardian, but for most of the year he worked away. So Oscar, living in a flat in downtown Johannesburg, was alone.

This story isn’t a once-off. Not in South Africa, and not in the world. Nearly 20% of South African children live in “child-headed” households. As you can imagine, Oscar had to mature very fast and start making adult decisions. He had nobody to wake him up for school in the morning, and he had no home-cooked meal to come back to after school. This was a young man who needed to step up at a young age.

Good Work Foundation (GWF) CEO Kate Groch and her sister, Angela Clifton, had known Oscar’s mother, and – after hearing that Oscar was effectively living by himself for much of the year – they reconnected with Oscar and were able to enrol him in a better school in a safer neighbourhood, powered by the GWF bursary fund.

The rest is incredible and proves that when a person has access to education, and takes that opportunity, there is little that can hold them back. It also proves that mindset is everything. Oscar is generous, determined, present, joyful and positive beyond belief.

Oscar graduated from high school last year after his natural leadership had seen him to the “head boy” position, and is now enrolled at GWF’s partner organisation in Johannesburg, the T-Systems ICT Academy, where he is part of a two-year specialised course that focuses on ICT skills and competencies. The course includes the International Computer Driving License (ICDL), the CompTIA A+, the CompTIA Network+, Microsoft Certified Solutions (Associates, Expert and Developer), Cisco CCNA (routing and switching) and SAP Business 1. Oscars’s dream is to become a mechanical engineer, but first he is working on deepening his foundations in IT.

“It touches me to find out that the world still has people like Kate and Angela who work selflessly to better other people’s lives in return for seeing them live their dreams. That is amazing,” says Oscar.

The GWF team would like to extend a special thanks to the team at our sister operation at T-Systems ICT Academy for believing in the potential of South Africans and seeing the stars in their eyes. That’s where the biggest missions begin!

When a person has access to education, and takes that opportunity, there is little that can hold them back.

When a person has access to education, and takes that opportunity, there is little that can hold them back. Oscar is currently working towards completing a set of specialised ICT qualifications at T-Systems ICT Academy.

Oscar is still

The day Oscar received his Matric results. Here is Oscar with Zack Clifton, Maya Groch and Maddy Clifton.

Oscar will pursue his dreams with an added advantage through his IT qualifications.

Oscar wants to pursue his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer with an added advantage of  IT qualifications.

Abandoned at 15, now a computer whizz whose spinning his future in JNB.

The amazing Oscar Mkhonza who stepped up, with a little help, but with a lot of his own sheer determination.

Written by Mpho Lebyane, member of the Hazyview Digital Learning Campus Media Academy.