Nokuphumla teaches Grade R at Chintsa East Pre-Primary School.
“My passion is children….”
There is a peace that comes with realising your passion. It is conveyed in Nokuphumla’s beautiful smile which resonates back off the faces of the children surrounding her and whom she in turn surrounds with her amazing Mama-love.
Mother, Teacher, Wife, Care-Giver, Community Worker, Student, Sports Coach and Project-Administrator: her life is rich with diversity and giving, but it has not been a life without challenge.
Her story begins in Chintsa in 1968.
Nonqaba (Tubby) Pati – (Nokuphumla’s maiden name), was born on a farm in the area, owned by Kenny Edward and shortly after her birth her father passed away and was buried in the local cemetery and her family relocated to Macleantown. Her early years started well but after passing grade 7 life began to toughen up. Nonqaba transferred to Ngwenyathi Senior Secondary School where a daunting 10 km walk to school and an unstable home environment left her pregnant, stressed, disappointed, shy and rejected by her uncles. She dropped out of school moved in with her grandmother where she helped look after her new-born and her siblings and missed out on three years of high-school. Her mom, working as a domestic helper in Vincent at the time, was unable to afford to send her back to school and further hardship and abuse under these circumstances led to make the decision to run. Leaving her mother’s side of the family she hunted down her father’s side finding them in the Chalumna area where she was welcomed and sent back to school which again came with a 10km walk. At the age of 19 she wrote the grade 10 external exams which she passed with flying colours and finished up grade 11 and 12 at Philemon Ngcelwane Senior Secondary School in Mdantsane in order to avoid the exhausting and time-consuming daily trek.
In 1991 Nonqaba registered with Fort Hare and began studying towards a B.A. but again had to drop out, this time due to financial constraints. By 1993 she decided that it was time to return home, to her father’s resting place and the place of her birth.
Her first job in Chintsa was for Dr Pierce where she assisted with reception and drug administration. During this time Nonqaba met, fell in love with and married Mike Pakamile who works for Kriel Construction in the Morgan Bay area. Dr Pierce left Chintsa in 1996 and Nonqaba, now renamed Nokuphumla in the Xhosa tradition of receiving a new name from your in-laws as a part of the marriage ritual, worked for the Normans who had occupied the Pierce residence.
It wasn’t long though before Nokuphumla’s gift with children was recognised in the community and in 1998 she was offered a teaching position at Chintsa Primary School.
Nokuphumla has five children of her own; all of them live, work or school in the area: Sithembiso Pati, Tina Pakamile, Sandile Pakamile, Neziswa Pakamile and Awonke Pakamile. These are the children she has birthed. But these are not her only children. She has many more that she mothers as if they are her own. Her passion for children has led her to opening her home to vulnerable kids in the village and the room in her garden, once occupied by her in-laws, is now her ‘hostel’, a warm, comfortable, safe place for those in need. At night the foam mattresses come out for those without beds and everyone falls asleep warm, safe, fed and loved. The resources for this come from her own pocket and heart.
In 2010, Nokuphumla decided to formalise her qualifications and with the support of Friends of Chintsa started studying for her teaching diploma. She will qualify at the end of this year.
In 2011 Nokuphumla was awarded the prestigious Friends of Chintsa Community Service Award in recognition of the work she does. The beauty of it all is that to Nokuphumla it doesn’t really feel like work, it is simply her passion and so what it feels like to her is simply, ‘a life blessed’.
And the future? Nokuphumla’s wishes are simple. The completion of the extensions to her home giving her a bit more desperately needed space, a jungle- gym in the garden for the kids to play on to relieve her guava tree which is under constant abuse as the jungle-gym’s substitute, and a hope that the shebeen next door will close so that weekends are more bearable for her family. “The only people winning from the shebeen are the shebeen queens”, she says. “These loud and disruptive places destroy many aspects of our community, hurting our family life and our children.”
On this Mothers Day it feels appropriate to be sharing the story of one of Chintsa’s very special Moms. This is the life of Nokuphumla Pakamile of Chintsa East, a strong and sweet blessing in our community.
Chintsa East – South Africa May 2012