IN PURSUIT OF CHANGING LIVES
Written by: Phindile Nqumako
Student, businesswoman and prayer-warrior are just a few words to describe Zama Phirie (38).
With her drive and humble personality she graduated Cum Laude in Child and Youth Development from the Durban University of Technology (DUT) this year.
“I like to think that I’m a mystery,” said Phirie. “I want people to read me like a book. My life is so colourful that I usually don’t tell people everything about my life because I just wouldn’t know where to start because there is so much to tell.”
Phirie has endured many difficulties through her life, but she has overcome them all with her passion and determination.
“I became a parent to my siblings at a young age when my father passed away after I matriculated. I had to abandon all thoughts of going to varsity. Luckily my aunt was working for a family and I started working alongside her as a domestic worker. My aunt’s employer saw potential in me and offered me a job at her office, even though I had no experience,” she said.
Life had opportunities in store for the businesswoman. She then moved to Cape Town and worked at a communications company and got a diploma in business management. She moved back to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) following an illness and managed to buy her mother a house.
“I bought her a house at Gamalakhe in South Coast. My mother and siblings built on our relationship. We missed her because she separated from my father before he passed away,” she said.
Her late father, who was a pastor, always helped others in need. Phirie’s passion for community work stems from him.
“I come from a family that practices the spirit of Ubuntu. My father had three wives prior to converting to Christianity and he had 21 people to feed yet he took care of our cousins too,” she said.
Phirie started a bible study group for children in which she would read to them and provide a meal. She noticed that the mothers of the children were young and did not have any source of employment.
She then founded Indumiso Community Based Group and Youth Development in Gamalakhe, an organisation that sees youth helping the elderly with household chores and their grandchildren with homework.
Phirie’s success continued when she won the Community Builder of the Year in 2013 and 2015 as well as the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year award in 2011.
She is currently doing her bachelor of technology degree in Child and Youth Development and believes she’s doing what she loves.
Caption: Zama Phirie who is a foster mother to four kids, a trauma counsellor, a founder of community foundation, an award winner and residence advisor at Winterton Residence. Photo cred: Facebook