Sihle (not her real name), a 16 year old girl, was brought to Empilweni by her paternal grandmother, who has been caring for her since her arrival in Cape Town a few months ago. The school reported that Sihle had been behaving badly and had stopped going to school, while grandmother said that she stays out late and has been abusing alcohol. She is cheeky at home, and has been crying a lot.
Sihle grew up in the Eastern Cape. Her mother died when she was 3 years old, and her father at 5 years old. After her maternal grandmother died, she did not receive proper care and supervision, but was shunted around between various relatives. When she failed Grade 10 last year, she was sent to Cape Town to her paternal grandmother.
One of the first things Empilweni did was to enrol her in a nearby high school. Sihle had four sessions with her Empilweni counsellor, and three family sessions with her granny and the counsellor. Sihle said that she felt rejected by her family and was filled with hatred, and she thought that she had no future. But she felt loved by her counsellor and was able to share her hurts, and she found that she could forgive all the people who had treated her so badly. She said: “It’s been a long journey and I never thought I would be so happy, but I learned that it’s never too late to chase your dreams”.
Sihle passed her mid-year examinations with flying colours, and she has been chosen to represent the school on many programmes, such as the Heritage project, which made the provincial finals. After her discharge from Empilweni, Sihle wrote: “I am now happy and can smile again, thanks to Empilweni Counselling Centre”