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Destined for bigger issues

Cynthia Gogotya, a Big Issue vendor, is going to study to become a social worker thanks to a R10 000 donation that was made to her by an anonymous donor.
(Image source: Cape Argus)

As reported by journalist Sibonga Mama in the Cape Argus earlier this year, a Cape Town Big Issue seller’s journey has taken her from the streets to a university lecture room, thanks to bucket-loads of perseverance and the generosity of a Good Samaritan.

Cynthia Gogotya, 46, who matriculated three years ago, has risen from the struggles of unemployment and is on her way to studying towards a social work degree at Unisa. Her dreams came true when an anonymous donor gave her R10 000 in April 2012.

“I thought it was a joke. He called me and I just said ‘Yes’ to everything when he said he wanted to meet on Monday,” she said. “We met at the Big Issue offices and he really had the money, R10 000 in R100 notes in a black envelope. I’ve never seen that much money in front of me.”

The anonymous donor read Gogotya’s story in the March issue of Big Issue, in which she expressed her wishes to become a social worker, and decided to donate R10 000 to her as part of Wearelucky. This project was started by an anonymous person who decided to give £1 000 (R12 690) to a stranger on the basis that he or she did something good with the money, said Big Issue editor Melany Bendix.

“Based on the pay-it-forward concept, people who join Wearelucky give the same amount – or as close to it as possible – to a person of their choice anonymously, in cash and with no strings attached,” said Bendix.

Gogotya, who has been a Big Issue vendor for five years, said getting the R10 000 was beyond her wildest dreams. “I got enough for a year’s tuition and other people also donated, bringing the total to R12 000. I took all of it straight to the university; I don’t want to mess around,” she said.

Gogotya couldn’t wait to get started with lectures. “I’m so excited, I’ve wanted to study forever but I just didn’t have the money to. I’ve already got a bag for my books. It took me three years to get my matric, and I was always in and out of school throughout my younger schooling years, but I did it. I can’t wait to take this on,” said Gogotya.

She said she wanted a social worker’s degree so that she could help her community, and also hoped that her studying would inspire not only her two daughters, Lydia, 15, and Nandipha, 8, but her community as well. They live with her brother in Philippi. “I want other vendors to see that they don’t have to be vendors all their lives, either. If you want help and you’re sincere about it, you will get it,” said Gogotya. “I want my children to see me move on up and I want them to be inspired to do the same.”

Asked if she was not nervous about having to deal with university jargon, Gogotya said: “Bring it on! I’ve got this; I’ll whip that English into shape.”

This article originally appeared in the Cape Argus and is used by permission.

32 comments to Destined for bigger issues

  • Sandile

    We may God bless the anonymous donor.Keep it up sisters .You are a good example in our country

  • Mthuzi Mathebula

    Congra…Sis anything is possible if you blieve.never ever loose hope, the gates are open for you.

  • wow!,its never to late in life to achieve ur dreams mummy-go get it & show ur kids the key to success….

  • An opportunity to study is the best gift anyone can get, you are very lucky my sister and the generous donor is even more blessed. Do not think that the road ahead is easy, it is very long and bumpy and needs lots of perseverance. Corresponce study is more challenge, you need to be very discliplined and dedicated to your studies and be prepared for many compromises. Good luck and God bless

  • Mzi

    This is so amazing. Congratulations and good luck to Ms Gogotya. Hope this a lesson to everyone who is facing similar predicament that it is not over until God says its over.

  • Jerry Motshegare

    I am very-very happy, actually Cynthia story made my day. Former President once said, “Those who are ready to join hands can overcome the greatest challenges”and this clearly is very true. Dennis De Young also siad,”Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try” and i would like to thank the donor too for doing such a wonderful job, Modimo a go okeletse, a go godise, o be o re phelele.Ke a go leboga.

  • Tshiamo

    Gud luck! my sister u prove to us that it is not too late to pursue your dream.

  • Beau Dumezulu

    Wow, that is so inspiring. I am 23 years old this year and I am already a Senior Specialist Business Analyst, I can testify that I couldn’t have done it without my Tertiary Education. With the right support structure we are all destined for greater things!!! Congratulations and all the best.

  • Jay Hall

    Way to go Girl…..way to go! It also goes without saying that the donor will receive ten times the reward for helping. Beautiful things amidst carnage still happen this day.

  • Carol

    ….And there i was thinking at 36, what am i doing registering for university. Thank you mama. You are walking the talk of perseverance.

  • Phume Phakathi

    Wow… well done! This is inspiring. i matriculated ’06 and couldnt afford to study, so i registered at UNISA as soon as i started working. its been a challenging journey, but all worth it. its nice to see women empower themselves, and Cynthia’s daughters will surely be motivated by this move.

  • It is very interesting to read such stories on myunisa. They always give us hope and encourage us to struggle on on what we are doing.I will download this article and give it to my grades 10, 11 and 12 learners to compare this woman’s background with theirs.

    Nduku Buthelezi

  • Lerato Motlakeng

    Amen! God answers our prays when we least expect and it becomes a miracle, one will never forget!

  • Comfort Nziyane

    I do not have so much to say nor comments, but short message May the good lord continue blessing you and his angels shower you with unlimited blessing.

  • zama

    if you really want it you can have it no matter what it is and it doesnt matter how long it takes you to get there as long as you dont stop. im inspired by this woman

  • Gert Maarman

    I always believe in the saying: If you believe it, you WILL see it! No doubt, this woman have the drive what is needed in this country!

  • Jeremiah

    I am studying social work with Unisa…I’m a groundsman @ a wellness center….and though from time to time I battle with my fees…such stories really encourage me to go on.



  • mmakgomo violet maepa-mphuthi

    im so inspired by u my sister,is never too late to study or to learn wish u all the best

  • Ruth

    wow wow wow i am proud of u ausi Cynthia… thuto ga e na bogolo.. bring it on sister. this is wht we want for our communities to grow well

  • Njabulo Mnyandu

    This is great, it is never too late to try anything, and if it is educating yourself, you can never go wrong, well done lady well done, and welcome to the Unisa student body!

  • This is encouraging, it gives the attitude of ‘I can’ yes everybody can do it.

  • sphesihle

    Smart move, you have shown that your brave and you have encourage other people to never give up in life

  • Simphiwe Mfati

    Big Up to Ms Cynthia Gogotya for having this relentless perseverance to get a tertiary qualification. I think it was was Dr Nelson Mandela who was said “Education is the most dangerous weapon to fight poverty.” Wish u luck with your unisa studies

  • Elemotho

    What an inspiring story. It teaches one patiance, dedication, and hard work. And once you achieve, help those who need it.

  • Nez

    Ohhh WoW, this is a touching story indeed. It’s so amazing to see people giving back to the community.

    All the best to you on your studies. Welcome to our student network.

    There goes your social life :)! it’s totally worth it.

  • Leah

    What a touching story it shows that if you have a dream and keep on holding on it GOD will make a way of making it happen. May GOD keep on blessing the hand that gave we need such people so that we can have a society that take care of each other.

  • nicholas Ramunenyiwa

    I realy thanks for you even myself I’ll be studding @ unisa I passed my matric 2000

  • Loulou

    Wow, I’m so inspired! I have been struggling financially to get my university degree going. Now that I’m 43 I have been feeling rather depressed about not being able to finish up to now. Last year I even had a worse blow with depression as I lost my brother tragically and I felt my studying was pointless! I am truly inspired and now rearing to go!

  • Freeda

    Wow!! We should all learn from this! Gogotya courage and the donar’s genarosity.

    Well done.

  • mokgadi pertunia sebola

    I am a young lady who is 22 years old.I have been lazy to study since i passed my matric in 2009.because of lack of financial support.after reading this story i feel ashamed of myself,because i am still young and i passed with diploma endorsement with maths and physical sciences.i am so inspired by this woman ,i am going to register tomorrow at university.

  • Maxwell

    i am happy 4 u to think wise gudluck join us felow unisa students

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