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LESEGO SHOROMA

“My mother was a domestic worker all her life, and could not have afforded my education. I applied for NSFAS and was the first in my family to go to university”



Career Field : Environment
Occupation : Disaster Management Researcher
Years Funded : 2007; 2008; 2009.
Institution : University of North West
Qualification : BA in Sociology

I was raised by a single mother in Kanana village in Klerksdorp, North West. I spent my whole childhood in a shack because my mother could not provide a better home, as a domestic worker. After she received an RDP house, we moved out of the shack. I heard about NSFAS when I went to apply for my first year of tertiary at the University of North West in Mafikeng. I started my university studies in 2006 and was the first person in my family to go to a university. However, NSFAS only started funding me in my second year of studies because I had missed the applications window in the first year.

After graduating, I still studied further and now have two postgraduate qualifications, one of them being an Honours in Disaster Management and another being an Honours in Business Management. I am a Researcher at the University of North West, specialising in Risk and Disaster Management. We are the people who research and assess the possibility of natural disasters in South Africa and the African continent. We do risk profiles of different countries in as far as climate change and environmental disasters are concerned. My job is to find research elements in this field, and capture it on our systems, before doing technological analysis. We reduce disaster risks in South Africa and identify potential hazards such as drought and floods. In our line of work, we also look into socio-economic factors of communities, and assess the physical and economic effects of disaster on people.

I also do consultancy work for United Nations agencies and other international bodies when they need expert research work in disaster management. I work closely with the African Centre for Disaster Management on the continent. I have developed a very close relationship with communities in which I work due to the fact that we always transfer our research skills whenever we do work in a community. In the next ten years, I want to start my own NGO and reach out to vulnerable communities by increasing their community safety. It is also my biggest ambition to become Director of Community Safety and Head of Disaster Management in South Africa. I cannot measure how grateful I am about the support I received from NSFAS. I would not be where I am today was it not for NSFAS. They took a very heavy burden off my family’s shoulders. I am glad that as soon as I started working, I started paying off my NSFAS loan.

ADVICE TO CURRENT NSFAS STUDENTS:

“They must know that NSFAS funding is a privilege. They must take it seriously and prioritise their academic work over their social activities. NSFAS changes lives and I would like to encourage them to keep doing the good work they are doing of helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds”.

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