“My mum was living with her boyfriend. She told me she couldn’t live with me anymore. She gave me taxi fare and an address of a centre in Hillbrow.”

The centre was for boys only and the owner later found her a room in a girls’ centre.

“I cried every night asking myself why my mum chose her boyfriend over me.”

Three years later Thandeka moved to the Time For Change Community Development centre. She continued with her studies and passed matric.

“Barbara Hill, owner of the centre, told us we could turn our lives around.”

She claimed her mum didn’t look for her.

“My biggest challenge came when I applied to study at the University of Joburg. My mum had to sign documents so I went to Springs with the social worker.”

She said when they got to her house she waited in the car. The social worker said her mum had said she didn’t have a daughter. Through the social workers, Thandeka was accepted into university to study teaching, and later changed to accounting.

Thandeka has a diploma in accounting from the Tshwane University of Technology. She’s studying for an advanced diploma in accounting at Unisa.

Thandeka, who lives in Zola in Soweto, believes her mum is living in Diepsloot.

“I want to ask her why she hated me so much and why she rejected me. I believe I need to forgive her and reunite with her.”

She said if God ever blessed her with children, she’d give them the love she never got from her mum.

“I wish when I meet my mother she’ll be able to tell me where my father is.”

Hill said:

“In life there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Through her pain and struggle, Thandeka still managed to uplift herself.”