September 18, 2020

Yvonne Mazibuko, From Domestic Worker to Engineer

PRETORIA, SA – Hi, my name is Yvonne Mazibuko and I want to share my story of triumph to hopefully inspire you.  I went from being a domestic worker to an engineer, aspiring chef and writer. My goal is to invoke in you, the tenacity to set and complete your goals no matter what.  Here is my story…

Being a Domestic Worker

When I completed high school both my parents were unemployed. I worked in someone’s house for a year earning R400 a month. I saved every cent of it and gathered enough money to register at Technical College the following year.

The money only took me to N3 and the following year I needed to continue with N4 to N6.  In January of that year my father passed away which made matters worse. I remember my brother saying, “Sister, maybe you need consider taking a gap from school because there is no money for you to continue.”

I refused, not because I was disrespectful to him but because I knew that my success did not depend on money. It’s not like we had money before my father died.

I went back to school and told them that I wanted to continue with my studies but I had no money. They looked at my results and decided to sponsor me for N4.

Perseverance pays off; Becoming An Engineer

For N5 & N6 a Good Samaritan (Mrs Joyce Mangwe) decided to pay for me but later the school paid until N6. I refunded the cheque to Mrs Joyce.

She gave me that money to go buy myself some clothes and shoes, her words were; “Wow Yvonne, if it was someone else they were not even going to tell me that the school sponsored them”. During my studies at the Technical College, I lived with my high school teacher Mrs Khawula, mostly known as Miss Jali.

When I completed my N6, I was supposed to look for a job since at home they were also looking up to me to start assisting them. But I always had this drive to graduate at the university with an Engineering degree. 

While waiting for my N6 results I spent a lot of time at the library reading books and articles.  I came across an invitation to apply for a university bursary to study toward Engineering.  My friend and I both applied.

A few days down the line I was called for an interview. The interview process took 3 days and on the final day only 10 of us got the bursary to start at the University the following year.

This bursary was only for year one; they were hoping that we would work hard and attract other companies to get the funding to complete our studies. I was grateful for the opportunity and I told myself that I was not looking back. At the end of that year I managed to get another bursary to further my studies.

Work Hard When Given An Opportunity

I worked hard and I must say that studying with a bursary is not easy, you are given funding with conditions; you must pass otherwise it is gone. For me, losing that bursary was not a consideration. My family would not be able to pay for me otherwise. It was very stressful and I was under pressure.

I remember when I was doing 2nd year at the University there was this one subject that was showing me flames (programming). One day I went to the dean’s office. I wanted to deregister that course and do it the following semester because I wasn’t coping. He looked at me and pull off his glasses and said “Yvonne when you start to see obstacles you must know that you have moved your eyes off your goal”. He put back his glasses and continued with what he was doing. I stood there for a while and he didn’t look at me or anything and I eventually saw myself out. When I went into that office I was feeling sorry for me, when I came out I decided to refocus and go face Programming head on.

Sometimes we do need to be reminded that there is a price at the end of the race. And the fact it gets hard along the way.

I completed my degree, being the first in my family to get the formal education. I had made a decision long before that my family life would never be the same.  So while I was still at the university I started to save up some money from the bursary. I used to buy 2nd hand books and spent it wisely on food.

I managed to assist my first sister to register at the Technikon. All my siblings that come after me are now educated; 3 engineers, 1 teacher and an HR Practitioner.

Live A Full Life

There were many lessons to be learned on this journey and I continue to learn all the time.

  1. I am a full-time visible single mother of two boys ages 8 and 12. Single parenting is not easy but doable
  2.  I’m a gym fanatic….I’m there minimum 1 hour, 6 days a week. I am a marathon runner and the longest distance I have done is 50km. 
  3. I am a full time employee that also does some traveling as required by the type of job that I do
  4.  I am writer in the making and at least once a week I either add to the book I’m writing or I write a poem. 
  5. I am a great cook (a future Chef), at least my boys think so…I bake at least once a week and I cook as often as possible.
  6. I do my private work, stylish crotchet dresses, tops and scarfs. I make outfits and accessories.
  7. I often get the question “where do you find the time to do all the things you do? The answer is that “time is always there”.

I still feel that I have so much time in my hands and I’m planning to register an LLB degree with UNISA. I have a heart for woman issues and  want to channel my energy to help them.

My point is that, “As long as you put your mind to it, nothing is impossible”, only the sky is the limit. In my journey I also learned that luck goes hand-in-hand with a bit of work on your side. Even when it comes to a competition, unless otherwise you enter the competition you can’t be one of the winners, that only happens on Scams!

I come from deep rural areas and poverty where it seemed there was no hope for my life.  But, I only had to put in a bit of effort, maybe a lot of it. Sometimes all you need is to start with the resources that you have, no matter how small. 

One of the poems I have written

I am a strong African woman

I am a woman of strength

I am courageous and intelligent

I respect myself and I respect others

I love life and embrace humanity.


I am a strong African woman

I am a woman of substance

I stand my grounds and hold to

What I believe in close to my heart.


Africa is my home, my first love

It is my dwelling and sanity

I am a proud African woman

Africa defines me and I am proud of it.


I am a strong African woman

I draw my strengths out our diversity

My beauty is what is inside of me

I carry my smile everywhere because

I live in the harbor of love

Humanity is our strength and I draw mine from that.


I hold relationships close to my heart

I love people because they are my sense of identity

I relate with nature because I am African

My existence commands attention because

I’m strong African woman.


I am a strong African woman

My presence is felt

I make a mark with everything I do.

I am an African flower, a woman, a mother

Of the nation, a nurturer.


I am a strong African woman,

I carry others on my shoulders with love

I carry life and nurture it till the end

Because I am a woman, I am African, I am strong,

I am beautiful, loving and I am loved.

6 thoughts on “Yvonne Mazibuko, From Domestic Worker to Engineer

  1. Very inspiring story. We tend to sugar coat our life journeys but you acknowledge where you come from. Impressive indeed

  2. I can attest to the drive you have and the burning desire to want to achieve your goals since I had an opportunity to personally engage with you. Continue to rock and I must say you inspire me so much…. #Mbokodo

  3. Yvonne I have seen you in action, I have seen your determination and will to succeed. You are unapologetic about your dreams and ambitions. You are talented and brilliant. Africa needs more young women like you.

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Yvonne Mazibuko, From Domestic Worker to Engineer

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