From humble beginnings in KwaNongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, 23-year-old Silondiwe Magwaza has conquered many obstacles to reach her dream of becoming a construction manager.
Growing up surrounded by poor infrastructure motivated Magwaza to explore new ways to uplift her community. She is now the first member of her family to obtain a degree.
Magwaza qualified at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2019, obtaining an undergraduate degree in construction studies.
“KwaNongoma has very poor infrastructure. Looking at all the challenges faced by my hometown, I was encouraged to do something relating to construction so that I can be one of the people to change the current state,” she says.
Obtaining her qualification was no easy feat. Magwaza says she found it difficult to concentrate due to her constant worry about funding. Then, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) stepped in to assist.
"I used to stress a lot about funding as I come from a disadvantaged background. That was until 2018, when I received a bursary from MISA. This helped me to complete my degree without any more stress. I had everything paid for, all I had to do was focus on my studies,” she says.
Magwaza is one of hundreds of students who pass through MISA’s youth development programmes each year. The programmes provide funding and support and help students find job placements once qualified.
“I was really looking forward to our graduation ceremony. It would have meant a lot considering that I was going to be the first graduate in my family. I am still hoping that we have our graduation ceremony, but this might not be possible given the coronavirus pandemic,” she says.
The construction industry mainly consists of men.
“At times, women are made to feel small because their ability to bring about change is doubted. Sometimes their voices are not heard.
“I still chose construction management because I believe that I have the power to change the industry and improve it where there is a need. I have seen women in this industry making it to top positions and having influence. I believe that I too can make it,” she says.
MISA bursaries are advertised on www.misa.gov.za from September, on Facebook @MISA, on Twitter @MISA_CoGTA and on Instagram @MISA_CoGTA.