Zodwa Nho: an inspiring story of grit and determination

from our partner Axium Education. Read Zodwa’s story below and listen to a clip of Zodwa reading her story here: 


Molweni bahlobo, hello friends,

I am Zodwa Nho. I am 25 years old. Since 2020, I am working for Axium as Program Coordinator, helping high school students in my village and the surrounding area get into university. In the past, where I come from, a very underdeveloped rural area, it was very rare for anyone to go to university and very few learners even finish high school. Now, more and more learners are finishing high school and want to go to university. This is because of Axium.

Axium played a hugely important role in my educational life from my school days until now. Axium gave me more reasons why I should pursue my dreams, and supported my education by giving me study materials, extra lessons, study groups and career guidance.

Now, with my Axium salary, I support my family. I built my parents a new house. And I make sure my younger siblings have shoes and school uniforms and food. Things I did not always have.

I grew up with my parents and five siblings with no electricity or running water. We collected firewood to cook. My mother worked very hard to feed and look after all of us children. We walked many miles to school, about one and a half hours there, and back again later. All the learners walk many miles to school. There are no buses and very few people have a car. In fourth grade I got my first pair of shoes and my sister and I shared a uniform passed down from someone else. She had some pieces of the uniform, and I had some pieces of the uniform. I did my homework by candlelight or sometimes if there was no candle, by moonlight with the door open. After a while, I just stayed later at school to get my homework done, but then I had to sometimes walk home in the dark.

I loved school and I got good marks. I am very ambitious and have always wanted to be a role model in my community. For me, failing was not an option. Axium classes were the best because we had more teachers in the classroom. Our classes can sometimes have 60-70 learners. In high school, I was selected to participate in extra Axium classes. Some of these were on Saturdays and also in the evening. It was scary walking home at 10pm in the dark. There is no light. Bad things can happen to students walking late. We always walked in a group for safety.

I was very excited and proud when I got into Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. No-one from my family had been to university before. But it was scary to be away from home and the city was overwhelming for me. I don’t think I could have got to university without Axium’s help. On the application form, I had to put an email address. I didn’t have an email address. Axium helped set this up for me. And we were asked for a mailing address, we didn’t even know what that was. Our homes do not have an address. Our homes do not have a street.

I worked hard at university. I had no money to go out with other students and have fun. I got a part-time job and always said I had to work if friends asked me to join them. I felt bad that I had no money, but it was more important for me to send money back home to my family.

But now my dream of providing for my family and being a role model has come true. I am passionate about community service and I am very happy to be working with Axium and helping more students do what I did. Axium makes the impossible possible for us. We are very grateful to Axium. Thank you for reading my story.