I met Buyi at Dwesa Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape where she was working as an intern for her nature conservation studies and receiving a basic stipend for her time. It was a short contract though and she had no further prospects for permanent, gainful employment when it finished and this was the biggest milestone that hung round her neck as a single mother, her greatest goal being an excellent education for her daughter. We chatted about her challenges and joys, her greatest wishes and what changes she as a young woman living in rural South Africa would bring about if she were president of the country. What changes would you bring about if you were president for a day?
What are your greatest challenges?
My greatest challenge is that I am unemployed because I’m a single parent. There is an overpopulation of the unemployed youth and yet everyone should have the chance to get a job. With no jobs for the youth they are depending on their parents to survive.
Living in a rural area there is no access to newspapers and the internet. Basic service delivery is not happening, they are taking too long to tar the road to our village even though they approved it 3 years ago. We pay the price, the bakkies in our area are badly damaged by the state of the road. The education in our area is also very poor, teachers don’t send their own children to the schools they teach at. They don’t identify the children with special needs that need to go to a special school. The clinic in our area is only open during the week, if there is an emergency on the weekend we have to hire a bake for R1 000 to get the person to hospital.
What are your greatest joys?
To be with my family. To have a chance to work and give my daughter better opportunities. Nature conservation gives me joy because I really care.
If you were president what would you make happen?
I would make sure that every child is well educated. I would create more jobs for youth who are unemployed and that will decrease the crime. I would make sure the rural areas have the same services as the urban areas – libraries, soccer fields, internet cafes. I would encourage South Africans to farm on a small scale, if you are farming you will not be suffering. I would educate people about alien invasive plants and their problems and about the importance of saving water.
What is your greatest wish?
My greatest wish is to get a permanent job.
What is stopping you from achieving your wish?
People give jobs to their family members, there is so much nepotism. it is very difficult to get a job, even if you are qualified. and then you find the person who got the job is not qualified at all.
Thank to all the places on Eco Atlas that give gainful, fair and socially just employment with upskilling, training and empowerment as part of their employment mandate. www.ecoatlas.co.za