When her father died in 2003, Eulenda Ravuku’s family was left destitute. Her dad had always provided everything to Eulenda and her four siblings.
Her mother worked as a domestic worker to take care of her children. But even during those difficult times, Eulenda continued to harbour dreams of a better life.
Young Eulenda worked tirelessly to achieve her goals. Her hard work paid off. In high school, she received a sponsorship that paid for her school fees and covered the rest of her educational expenses.
She was accepted to study at the University of Johannesburg but soon she hit another obstacle. Her sponsor was unable to cover tuition for her final two years, which left her with the option of either dropping out of varsity or finding a job to pay her fees.
But then the youngster’s luck changed. A friend gave her an application form for a bursary from the Gauteng Department of Social Development. Fortunately, she was shortlisted as a beneficiary. The bursary covered her fees and textbooks for both her third year in 2011 and the final year in 2012, allowing her to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in development studies.
She was on her way.
Her future looked promising after she secured a year-long internship at the head office of the Gauteng Department of Social Development, where she gained valuable experience in monitoring and evaluation.
After completing her internship, she applied with the department for other opportunities, resulting in her appointment at the beginning of 2015 as a community development practitioner in the Sustainable Livelihoods Unit in the West Rand region.
The past three years with the department have been life-changing for Eulenda.
She has managed to take care of her mother, who is now retired, and bought herself a house in Fourways in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. In May 2018, Eulenda travelled to New Zealand for a vacation, realising one of her dreams of travelling overseas.
But perhaps her greatest achievement is the fact she has become a role model to other young women: she is a youth leader at church and mentors high school girls from her community. The department has even used her poetry at official events to serve as inspiration for young women.
Recalling her story, the 28-year-old says: “The Department of Social Development has played a huge role in the journey of my life and I will forever be grateful for that.”