He dreamed of going to school. South Africa united to make it a reality


The school bell rang out in the distance. Sboniso Hlope unzipped his bag and carefully removed his books. Struggling to balance, he placed a jotter on his lap and began to write. Hlope had no desk to work on, no teacher to listen to, and no classroom to participate in. Diagnosed with autism, he needed to attend a school that catered to him. But his father, a gardener, couldn’t afford it. So every day, Hlope sat under a tree, in the valley of KwaNyuswa in KwaZulu-Natal, yearning for an education. Little did he know, his story was about to become the lesson of a lifetime for South Africa.

 Touched by Hlope’s perseverance, the woman who employs his father shared the boy’s plight on social media. Her photographs of the neatly-dressed child reading under a tree broke the hearts of all who saw it. The Angel Network, a non-profit organisation, caught wind of Hlope’s story and began crowdfunding for his schooling requirements. Within months, they received more than R80 000, with each donation bearing a message for Hlope. Thanks to the aid of countless South Africans, his dream has now come true.

With new resources and the country’s support, Hlope finally enrolled at a special needs school this year. The 13-year-old boards weekly at Golden Hours in Durban North, and visits his parents over weekends. Hlope has warmed up to the new environment and is feeding his hunger for knowledge. The days of longing to learn far behind him, Hlope’s story exemplifies the power of dedication. We can turn our hopes into reality.

Nuraan Shaik