By Tshepo Motholo

  • Thabo Kobyane’s story is a powerful testament to resilience, determination, and the transformative impact of caring individuals.
  • Despite a challenging childhood marked by loss and adversity, Kobyane overcame significant obstacles to achieve academic success and personal growth.
  • His journey highlights the importance of support systems and education in empowering youth to rise above their circumstances and realise their potential.

At only 24 years old, Thabo Kobyane’s story is one of resilience, determination, and inspiration. Despite a turbulent childhood marked by loss, trauma, and adversity, Kobyane refused to let his circumstances define him. Instead, he transformed his struggles into sources of strength, paving his own path to success.

Kobyane’s journey began with heartbreak at the tender age of four when he tragically lost his mother. Left without a primary carer, he found himself in a challenging environment, eventually coming under the care of his father in Soweto. However, a traumatic incident involving his father prompted a change in his living situation, leading him to a foster mother in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg.

Unfortunately, the transition to his new home was far from smooth, as Kobyane encountered mistreatment and neglect at the hands of his foster mother. Undeterred, he bravely reported the abuse to Social Workers, a decision that ultimately led to his referral to the Don Mattera Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC) in Ekurhuleni, administered by the Gauteng Department of Social Development.

Reflecting on his time at Don Mattera, Kobyane recalls feeling a sense of belonging and warmth that he had never experienced before. The Care Workers at the facility played a pivotal role in his life, providing the love and support he desperately needed. However, life at Don Mattera was not without its challenges. Surrounded by other children with troubled backgrounds, Kobyane navigated a complex social dynamic fraught with behavioural issues and conflicts. Despite facing hostility and threats from some of his peers who suspected him of reporting their misbehaviour, Kobyane remained resilient, standing up for himself and ultimately being transferred to Rhema Children’s Village.

At Rhema Children’s Village, Kobyane found a sense of freedom and opportunity that he had long yearned for. The environment was less strict, allowing him to attend school outside the facility and interact with children from the surrounding community. It was here that Kobyane encountered his Grade 10 business teacher, Mr. Mkhonza, who would become a critical figure in his life.

Under Mr Mkhonza’s guidance and mentorship, Kobyane discovered his hidden potential and realised the power of education to transform his future. Inspired by his teacher’s belief in him, Thabo pursued a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Free State, culminating in his recent graduation.

Today, as Kobyane embarks on the next chapter of his life, he is filled with gratitude for the Care Workers who played an instrumental role in shaping his journey. Despite the challenges and hardships they faced, these unsung heroes selflessly dedicated themselves to providing love, guidance, and support to children in need.

As Kobyane looks to the future, he is determined to pay it forward, using his own experiences to uplift and inspire others facing similar obstacles. His journey serves as a powerful reminder that resilience, determination, and the unwavering support of caring individuals can help overcome even the greatest challenges. In the words of Thabo Kobyane himself, “If it were not for them, I would not have been where I am.”


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