Sanele Madliswane grew up at Maqanyeni location in Mqanduli, Eastern Cape. He attended his primary school at Thwalikhulu Junior Secondary School and high school at Dudumayo Senior Secondary School. Axium Education helped not only in his academics but also in curving his career path. He said, “Before the job exhibition Axium Education organised for us at Zithulele Hospital I didn’t even know what pharmacy was, let alone what a pharmacist does or that it even existed.” Passing matric was a big deal for Sanele because he was the second person to pass matric in his family. Being accepted at the University of the Western Cape was an even bigger deal! He felt excited and nervous about leaving the Eastern Cape for the first time in his life.
Sanele describes this move as a big transition. He moved when his English vocabulary was still developing, hence language was at the top of his list of challenges. He shared that he once missed a feedback appointment that was supposed to happen after the attendance of the Service Learning In Pharmacy (SLIP) community services, because the lecturer's accent and vocabulary were too advanced for him to understand everything she said. “After finding out about these feedback appointments from my classmate, I had to come out of my comfort zone and approach the lecturer about the matter at hand. After hearing my story, the lecturer was generous enough to give me another time slot for the feedback.” Sanele’s frustrations about this language and accent issue made him want to work twice as hard at familiarising himself with English and he did this through watching YouTube videos and reading.
Sanele said that his journey was not an easy one, not only academically but in general. There were times he would run out of food and not be able to ask for money back at home because his family was struggling. For him to ask for money would be an ‘unnecessary stress’ for his mother. Not knowing where your next meal will come from was a stressful reality that Sanele said he had to live with until he started getting his food allowance, which was his only source of survival, from Umthombho bursary. Even so, the allowance was not enough to carry him through the whole month and so he decided to look for a part time job in 2017. Juggling work and a demanding course like pharmacy was not easy. In Sanele’s case, he failed one of his modules and for him that was a huge setback because it resulted in him having to do an extra year of studies.
Throughout all, quitting was never an option for Sanele. He said, “Growing up seeing the situation at home made me want to bring change. I once wrote an essay in primary school and one of the things I wrote there was that I want to be a leader. I want to lead and motivate my siblings and youth onto the right path. I want to be an example and shine through my actions.” His perseverance led him into the success he had been seeking and he obtained his degree in 2020! Sanele always planned to celebrate his graduation with those close to him but that did not happen due to the pandemic, “A celebration would have been fun because I would be compensating myself for the hard work and the struggles I went through. But throughout all that I am excited because I have the paper. I am a graduate regardless.”.
In 2021 Sanele arrived back at Zithulele to work as a pharmacist at Zithulele Hospital. You can see that he loves his work through his features when talking about it, even his words ooze passion. To him working at the Zithulele hospital is not just about him doing his job, it is more about serving his community. Sanele believes that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Coming back to the village is a way of giving back and also a motivation to the youth in the community.
“I was fortunate to have been granted a chance to attend Axium Education, but unfortunately they can’t accommodate all the learners in the province. However, there are people who have the resources, time and knowledge across the country and are always willing to help. Use that to your advantage. Keep going even when you feel like giving up, give your all to all that's worthy.” -Sanele Madliswana