Nosipho’s Dream
In Child and Youth Care circles they use the word “resilience” to describe an inner quality needed to overcome abuse and gross neglect. This resilience can be significantly restored when vulnerable children respond positively to experiences of love and support. Nosipho Witbooi is a shining example of accepting a second chance in life, supported by a team of people affirming and cheering her on, during her time at Vuyani and beyond.

Nosipho, a lively 10-year old girl, was placed at Vuyani in 2010. At that stage she was living in an old wreck of a car with an older sibling and friends in Somerset-East. Her biological mother left Nosipho and her siblings in the care of their grandmother. Often under the influence of alcohol, she neglected and sometimes abused the children. They chose to leave her home, dropped out of school and survived by begging at a local supermarket. The case was reported to the local child protection organisation. Consequently the social worker investigated and got a
court order to place Nosipho, who was already two years behind in school, in safe care at Vuyani.

This photo was taken about two years after Nosipho came to Vuyani.
Nosipho at her matric farewell

Nosipho adjusted very well and appreciated the care she received. During the July 2013 holidays, Nosipho visited her biological family who relocated to Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha). She picked up their disdain of her being at a children’s home, but no-one was willing or able to take care of her. She came back with a dream of expressing her gratitude for finding a home and “family” at Vuyani. She also wanted to convince the community of Graaff-Reinet that the children placed at Vuyani have the same worth as any other child and that they have many priviliges.

In the end her ideas evolved in a Christmas play, “Nosipho’s dream”, showcased for two nights early in December 2013 at the Rupert theatre. Several actors, musicians and dancers – old and young – supported Nosipho and the children of Vuyani.

Nosipho playing the main role in the Christmas play – Nosipho’s Dream

Nosipho was headgirl of Lingcom Primary school and later at Spandau High School, Nosipho took part in many school activities and passed her grade every year. In her matric year Vuyani assisted her with all the preparations for her matric farewell. That afternoon Nosipho invited 5 women to Thanduxolo house where our older children lived. In her Thank You speech, she honoured the women by calling them her “Mothers”.

She did all of them proud when she passed her matric. She was accepted to the SA College of Tourism in 2020 – the year of Covid-19. With a lot of support still from Vuyani, she persevered through a very challenging year, but was rewarded with a full learnership at the Drostdy Hotel for 2021.

Nosipho’s connection with the SA College of Tourism: She graduated in January 2021 after a very difficult 2020 study
year during Covid-19. She was then accepted at the Drostdy Hotel in their Learnership program.

At the end of the year, Nosipho was offered a permanent work as chef at Samara Private Game Reserve. This was another dream come true. Since 2010 Nosipho, with all the Vuyani kids and staff, had the immense privilege to attend the annual Christmas Party for Vuyani at Samara.
Through the years she was part of many special outings to Samara to learn to appreciate nature and Samara’s phenomenal rewilding program.

At the Christmas party of 2021 Nosipho was one of Samara’s staff members serving Vuyani’s kids a splendid meal.

Growing up at Vuyani Nosipho loved visiting Samara Private Game Reserve and took part in many eco-projects. At
the end of her learnership she was asked to join the staff at Samara as a junior chef.

During the Covid-years, Nosipho started reaching out more and more to her mother and grandmother. She visited them during her leave times and even assisted them from her small stipend. They both passed away within a short period of time. Nosipho received the inner strength to process this loss and was comforted by her circle of support.

Nosipho was asked to share her story of hope at the SACT Woman’s day event in 2022. She invited Hildegarde Brummer, the manager of Vuyani, who up to today still support her, to be present at this prestigious occasion as her family.

In 2022 a new award was introduced at Vuyani’s end-of-the-year prize giving: The Nosipho Witbooi award for consistent good behaviour, leadership qualities, respect, and obedience.

Today at Samara, Nosipho serves visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy a stay in the wild. She is often asked to tell her story – not as a victim of her circumstances, but as a remarkable vivacious young woman who radiates joy and gratitude.

Nosipho still has dreams, from putting another show together to a recipe book . . . so watch this space!