Covering a seven-kilometres stretch to school every day while only a young boy was only one of the many challenges Immanuel Pendapala Kongolo had to overcome to reach the point where he is now.
Today he is a successful and one of the youngest Site Agents at a local construction company. Born in Ondangwa in 1993, Kongolo grew up at the Iimanya Village in the northern part of the country with both his parents.
Although Kongolo used to live a normal life like other children, doing domestic chores such as looking after cattle, he also used to play football and swim. Money was the foremost challenge in his household.
“Not having enough time to study; having a long walk to school every day, and having to show up with only plain bread at school compared to the food other children brought,” he says, as he reflects on his not-so-rosy upbringing.
“After school I had to get home quickly and take care of our goats and cattle. I enjoyed it but it did not allow me enough time to study and do my homework. I am the eldest son so I had a lot of house chores which made me work hard,” he says.
He also struggled a great deal with his schoolwork, especially in primary school due to lack of enough studying materials.
“This is where I told myself that this shouldn’t be an excuse, and I pulled up my socks and used the few materials available to me to improve my school grades.
“Footing back home from school, one barely gets time to do school work, which is something I never managed to quite overcome but I adapted to the situation and accepted it,” Kongolo says.
He completed his primary school education at the Iimanya Combined School between 2000 and 2006, and later moved to Uukule Senior Secondary School where he continued his education from 2007 to 2011.
Kongolo was the founder member of the Iimanya sports tournament. They use to organise sport tournaments at his village each year to promote sports among the youth, and to bring the community together. Apart from that, he was also a motivational speaker.
“I did not really achieve anything during those years, but I was an [exemplary] learner full of dreams. At my high school, I made many friends, but those friends exposed me to bad influences and pressure, which directly and indirectly affected my school work as well,” he says.
He studied Building and Civil Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa, and graduated in 2014.
“My university life was totally awesome. Studying in a foreign country opened my eyes to new possibilities. I made a lot of friends and learned so much about other cultures. The best thing was my classes; I loved what I was doing and so I enjoyed every class,” he says.
He adds that university life was tough but manageable. “It was just a bit difficult at the beginning but as time went by, I learned to survive and that’s when university became fun and interesting.”
He worked as a construction supervisor at EBC Contractors (2015); New Phase Trading as a site manager last year, and is currently employed by Octagon Construction.
“The job is very demanding and requires your full attention when carrying it out so it can be done effectively done and at the same time avoid mistakes. If you put in effort, time and attention, this can be the best job you will ever find,” he says.
In five years’ time, Kongolo says he has plenty of goals he wants to reach to become a successful young project manager.
“Life is a long complicated journey that is full of obstacles that can stop someone from achieving his or her goals, but do not let these obstacles get in your way.
“Try and find a way around them, even if you have to try 100 times, you just have to continue trying until you overcome those obstacles. As they always say, never give up because you don’t know how close you are.”