My story, My Life
Milpark Education alumnus, Nolundi Seluleko Luthuli, has suffered from ill health for most of her life and has even hovered on the brink of death, but was kept going by the power of education.
She explains: “The love of my family also inspired me to keep fighting because I did not want to fail them. I had to live to be a blessing to them for all that they sacrificed for me. Living with a dying person for so long could not have been easy. But they never gave up on me. We all refused to give up.”
Luthuli was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while she was young, a disease she says that almost took her life. She is a dual kidney and pancreas transplant recipient and is also visually impaired. Despite these health challenges, she continues to be a pioneer in her community. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree, specialising in Marketing Management, obtained from UNISA and an Advanced Certificate in Management from Milpark Business School. She is the Managing Director of iSeluleko Youth Leadership Development Forum, a non-profit company aimed at developing the youth through leadership, mentorship, career development exhibitions, motivational talks and health seminars.
We recently caught up with Luthuli, and she spoke to us about her past, present and future plans.
Q: You are very passionate about education. Where does this passion come from?
A: My parents overcame poverty through education, thanks to missionary schools that provided education in rural areas back in the 1950s. My late dad became a medical doctor after receiving a bursary to study medicine at the then University of Natal. My mom has a PhD in Nursing Science. Education played a major role in shaping my career because, as a social entrepreneur, I had the backing of a Marketing degree to convince corporates to fund my vision to improve education in the townships. I believe, without a doubt, that education can open many doors for talented, visionary young people. Africa is in need of young visionaries to contribute effectively to the sustainable economic, environmental and social development of our continent.
Q: At an early age you were diagnosed with diabetes. How did this affect your childhood and adult life?
A: Being diagnosed with a disease that is synonymous with the older generation was a big blow and affected my confidence in a bad way. I struggled as a teenager emotionally, especially after losing my dad, to whom I was very close. But, I focused on my studies and used academic success as a way to escape the feeling of helplessness. As a young adult, I lost my eyesight and became visually impaired. I also suffered from kidney failure which was a result of diabetic complications. So basically, diabetes made life very difficult, but with the support of family and my strong faith, I managed to live through it all.
Q: You recently had a kidney and pancreas transplant. How did this shape your outlook for the future?
A: The simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant is a miraculous invention and it has greatly improved my standard of living. I no longer take insulin or require haemodialysis three times a week. I celebrate my freedom every day as I am now fit enough to work. I recently graduated with an Advanced Certificate in Management at Milpark and am now writing my final exams for the BCom Honours qualification. My future looks very bright, and I hope to achieve greater things as I make the most of this second chance in life.
Q: Could you tell us more about your new book?
A: The book is called The Will to Live, A Way to Survive. It is really my effort to share my journey of survival. It details my experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa in a middle-class, black African family. I re-live the trauma of being chronically ill, having to experience black-on-black violence in my province (KZN), which was the worst affected during the 1990s. The experience of being part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the humbling support from the then President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela; and the then Chairperson of the TRC Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, gave me hope during a very difficult chapter in my life.
Having survived the political unrest, I had to face my own inner turmoil as my health went from bad to worse. I lived to survive a coma, loss of eyesight and a double transplant. The book targets a wide audience of both young and old, believers and non-believers, as well as those who have survived any form of disruption in family life or violence.
I hope to inspire people to focus on their goals, to see the positive in every situation and to trust God’s purpose for their life to be fulfilled, even against all odds. After reading my story, I assure you that your life will never be the same again. The message in my book is that with God all things are indeed possible!
Q: Could you tell us more about your NGO and its purpose?
A: The inspiration behind iSeluleko Youth Leadership Development Project was really to give direction and support to young people who wanted to do positive things with their lives. Not all young people are into alcohol, sex and drugs. Those in the township who fall into these traps are often the ones who lack a proper family structure or parental support.
I then registered the organisation with the CIPC as a non-profit company in order to work more effectively with both public and private sector entities to host career exhibitions, financial skills and entrepreneurship workshops and awareness campaigns, as well as educational programmes to empower young people to be productive and independent.
iSeluleko NPC was recognised in the KZN Indondo Awards, as we received an award in the social entrepreneurship category. We have impacted many young people in Northern KZN and, had it not been for my move to Gauteng, I believe we could have enjoyed even greater success.
Q: Could you describe your experience of studying at Milpark Education?
A: I was enrolled at Milpark Education through the Duke Young Talent Programme, and I must say that Duke made a wise choice in partnering with an institution of Milpark’s calibre. The fast and efficient service and the fact that Milpark caters adequately for visually impaired students like myself make it an institution of choice for those seeking to gain knowledge to manage and advance their careers. I would definitely recommend it as one of the best educational institutions to prepare one for leadership and management in the modern world of work.
Q: Your life story is not an ordinary one, and some people would have given up along the way. What has kept you going for all these years?
A: My relationship with God through faith in Jesus helped me to believe the incredible, to see the invisible and to receive the impossible. I just believed that I would not die until my purpose on earth had been fulfilled. As each day unfolds with joy, I hope to inspire this generation to look beyond their circumstances and to strive for excellence. With God, we shall do mighty things. (Psalm 60:12)
01 Feb 2018