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From abuse to beauty in the Bahamas

Samona Murugan

When the Afrisun Trust and Carnival City offered three young Ekurhuleni girls the opportunity to study beauty therapy, they didn’t realise that the world would soon become their oyster.
From a background of abuse and abandonment, Nombuso Mncube, Duduzile Ngwenya and Thuli Tshabangu looked forward to spending nine months working as beauticians in the Bahamas aboard a luxury cruise ship.
Having just returned from this life-changing journey, the girls are brimming with tales of wonder and a clear vision of their bright futures.
Mncube, Ngwenya and Tshabangu, along with 10 other matriculants were identified in 2008 by the Afrisun Trust as potential recipients of a two-year bursary in Somatology (Beauty Therapy) and Hairdressing. The course, internationally accredited by City and Guilds in London, is run by the Rene Institute of Beauty Therapy in Brakpan. Following extensive aptitude interviews, Mncube, Ngwenya and Tshabangu were selected for the course

New worlds
After graduating Tshabangu, originally from Kwa Thema, Mncube from Tsakane and Ngwenya from Brakpan were offered the opportunity to work for the leading global spa brand Steiner aboard their international cruise ships. All three girls agree that the experience expanded their minds and opened their eyes to new worlds, new cultures and new possibilities.
Ngwenya toured the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Caribbean, Key West, Jacksonville and Croatia, “We worked closely with people from all over the world. I learned so much about other cultures and food. The hours were long, but the experience is one I will never forget and no one can remove it from my mind.”
Ngwenya is not yet certain about her future plans, but hopes to have her own beauty spa one day which she would like to use as a “pay-back” to train young, orphaned women in her hometown.

Professional behaviour
For Mncube, the time away was a wonderful way of gaining knowledge about things such as time zones, weather conditions, dress codes, food and different cultures. She visited Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Malta, Greece, Miami, Florida, Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Turk and the Cayman Islands, St Thomas, St Martin, St Croix, Puerto Rico and the Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.
She also learned a lot about professional behaviour. “It taught me that when you work with people, you have to be patient, humble, respectful and trustworthy and it’s not just about rendering a service but also about building a relationship with your clients.” She intends returning to the ships and plans to save the money she makes there to open her own business.

Crystal cruise
Tshabangu’s nine-month adventure took her to Hawaii, Turkey, Greece, France, Brazil, China, India, Vietnam, America, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Dubai, Israel, Egypt, Croatia, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Amazon and Singapore.
“I’m so grateful for the wonderful experience; I would never have been able to afford to go to any of these places on my own. All the countries I visited are special and beautiful in their own way. I learned about other cultures, food and lifestyles; I made sure I ate something in every country, which is visible by my weight gain and the comments from all at home,” she joked.
“The experience has changed me in a good way. I have matured and I now understand and appreciate where I come from. I learned how to communicate with people, how to stand, speak and address people. I now realise you should always take your job seriously,” says Tshabangu.
Her next sea adventure will take her aboard a bigger ship, the six-star Crystal Cruise.