It is a fact in life that everyone has a past and we all know this. Some pasts are filled with darkness, while others are filled with light, but most are a mixture of the two. Regardless of how much light or darkness we have in our past, as people we cannot allow our pasts to define us.
This is the story of Dominga Ronny, a 27-year-old pre-primary schoolteacher at Mangetti Dune Primary School, who was born into a very poor family with little hope of ever attaining great goals in life. Born into the !Kung community to a single mother, Dominga and her younger sister had to scrape around for food on a daily basis and walk
long distances to school in the hope of getting a good education for a better tomorrow.
The drive to break down the walls of poverty saw this young woman and her sister taken in by a white doctor, whom Dominga lovingly calls their guardian angel, who raised them as her own when their mother passed on.
Always remembering the words of her late mother, “Never curse your past, but curse your future,” Dominga
knew that given where she is coming from she could not allow herself to be subjected to the same life.
Through her many struggles she never whined and not once eased herself into misconceptions that she is not worthy or deserving of a life of prosperity. The very same school where she is now teaching is in fact where she started her primary school. From there she moved to Tsumkwe Secondary School and went on to complete her senior
education in Grootfontein. She is now studying through the Institute of Open Learning towards her Pre- Primary Teachers’ Diploma and is currently in her second year – all this with her own money. She is also upgrading her Grade 12 results through Namcol.
As a little girl she always dreamt of becoming a medical doctor,. However those dreams faded when she did not do well in Grade 12. Teaching has now become her life mission, as it allows her to plant a seed of self-betterment into the minds of young boys and girls from her clan, who must still face the struggles she had to endure. Most of the learners live in nearby settlements, up to nine kilometers from the school, and are provided with one meal at
school through the school feeding programme.
Dominga wants all children to know that one’s past does not define who you are and where you are going.
Dominga has vowed to stay on at the school, where her educational foundation was laid, because her community needs her. Many a challenge in providing quality educ at ion i s faced on a daily basis, not only by Dominga,
but a l so by other teachers at the school. A shortage of water, electricity and study materials, as well as lodging for
learners, are some of the problems they endure daily.
They get by through finding alternatives, such as using water sparingly, making do with lamps and allowing learners to finish their work for the day during afternoon classes, whenever the power is off. Walking around the tiny preprimary classroom one can see the passion Dominga has for teaching. Taped to the walls of her classroom
are dozens of artworks her learners have crafted. Perfectly crafted, these are the visualisations of their dreams.
According to Dominga, although most parents in her community have not had much education, most are
quite willing to send their children to school. This, she says, is a great achievement in a community where
many people live a nomadic lifestyle and children are moving around with their parents in search for food
While she still hopes to become a doctor one day, she will continue to plough back through education the
knowledge she has gained in order to improve the lives of children in her community. This, she says, is the legacy she
wants to leave behind.