This week the Education Ambassadors SA Team caught up with Nolubabalo Cumbe, who is born and raised in Soweto, Gauteng. Nolubabalo is a woman who strongly believes in motivating young women through fashion and education. Her NPO 'Fashion Meets Education' plans to host a pageant that will be raising education awareness and inspiring young girls.
My name is Nolubabalo Cumbe, a 25-year-old Journalism graduate born and raised in Soweto. I am a blogger, content curator, social media fanatic and founder of fashion meets education. I aspire to be a news anchor and radio presenter. I am currently doing sales and marketing learnership at the creative council. With this leanership, I aim to acquire skills and knowledge about brands and advertising.
What were the challenges and great things about growing up?
My parents not working was one of the bitter and sweet challenges I faced growing up. Bitter because at times food and transport to go to school was a luxury. I know what it is like to put a box in my school shoes because mom can’t afford to get me a new pair of school shoes, to sleep on the floor; I slept on the floor till I did my matric. I watched my parents do recycling for years till a time when my mom’s body could not take it anymore. I know how it’s like to survive on R500 a month while in varsity. With that R500 I had to do my grocery, buy toiletries etc. Sweet? Yes, there were sweet moments, and those moments are what I consider lessons. How I grew up can never take away my love for family, I am family orientated, I am a giver. “give and it shall be given unto you press down shaken and running over” no bible scripture makes sense either than this one for me. I am a go-getter; it is because of watching my parents that I am the way that I am. I constantly push myself.
Your career? What is it that you do? What inspired you to do what you do?
I have a few things that I am busy with. Weekdays I am at TCC doing campaign trainings; I always find that interesting, it gets me excited to dream of being part of drafting ideas about how to market brands one day. Weekends I do promotions and when I get home I work on my project.
What do you like most about yourself and the work that you do?
What I like the most about myself is my drive; nothing ever gets me down. I have learned the importance of taking a break when I am tired but to never give up on anything I set my mind to. Prayer keeps me sane; when I feel fear creeping in I attack with prayer.
What are some of the challenges which you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
What are some of the greatest challenges I have faced? This question takes me back to varsity. It was hard no lies. Firstly, I was accepted 2 weeks after the semester had commenced which made it difficult for me to adjust. Everything was just overwhelming (chuckles). Language and self confidence was also a barrier. I did English as a second language in high school. I could read and write it but we never spoke English in class so one can imagine when I had to first speak English in varsity, the memory of it is still funny. I remember how I would always be annoyed at black students that spoke English amongst each other; to me it didn’t make any sense. We are all from the location, why speak English when we can always address each other in isiZulu? Lastly, using a computer was a foreign concept for me. The high school I went to had a computer lab but one memory that serves me well was when we went to the lab and the only thing we learned was how to switch the computer on, nothing much was learned that day. When I got to the University of Johannesburg everything was being done through a computer, the lab assistants found it is surprising that I knew so little about the device. If to them that was a bizarre thing, what about those that are still in high school with no access to computers at this time and age? All that I have mentioned gave birth to my NPO; “fashion meets education”.
What are some of your life highlights for you so far? What are you most proud of?
Miss Dobsonville beauty pageant was the first pageant I had ever entered and to win it was a big deal for me. From the pageant I discovered a lot of things about myself; that I am not as shy as I always thought I was and that giving is my life purpose. My second biggest highlight is graduating. At some point it seemed impossible, a 3 year degree obtained in 6 years, one can imagine how stressful that was. Seeing people, I started with graduating was not like walking into a candy store and feeling as though I was not cut out for university was not easy but I did it. I graduated, my parents came to see their first daughter being recognized and honoured for never giving up. If there’s one thing you can never take away from me is my degree. I have always said that varsity will test you; emotionally, spiritually and in every way you can imagine but when persist you will reap the rewards.
What, in your opinion, are the most important factors to keep in mind to make it in your career or life in general?
Some of the most important factors to keep in mind to make it in life is to know that nothing happens over night. It takes dedication, love and work to be successful. Furthermore, never be afraid to start small; anything big needs to be birthed small. You don’t need to have everything figured out, let everything unfold on its own.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next three years?
Three years from now I want to hear my voice on radio. I also want to see fashion meets education being one of the organizations that is mostly spoken about.
If there was anything you could do differently, what would it be?
If there was anything I could do differently, I would change how the youth in my community reacts to things. From an observation, young people from other communities seize every opportunity. They are always eager to get involved and I would always wonder “but why not in my community? Why don’t we have projects that build each other and even when we have them, why are we not interested? And this is not only for young people; parents also, why are they not supportive? Now of cause this is not a sweep statement, this is to not paint everyone with the same brush however this is something that happens in my community and I want to change it.
Are there any specific people or organisations that you look up to and draw inspiration from and why?
Gift of the givers is an organization I draw inspiration from. Their work speaks for itself. My personal mantra is to always give. No one has ever become poor by giving. Malala Yousafzai is my greatest inspiration. She is selfless and courageous; she is passionate and believes in her voice. She is one of a kind.
Are there any inspiring projects which you’re involved in?
I am the founder of fashion meets education; an education awareness, youth and community development organization. I work with amazing people that believed in the idea and there was nothing else I would ever ask for either than their support. We are currently working on a pageant to be held on the 29th of September 2018. The pageant will be raising education awareness. We currently do not have big sponsors but that will not stop us from doing this event. We are all university graduates and we want to inspire these young girls into working to the best of their ability.
Lastly, what advice would you give to others out there looking to follow in your footsteps?
In all that you do, do it out of love. Love beats hard work. When you’re doing something out of love, it really doesn’t feel like working. You will wake up each morning ready to do great.
How can the public contact you?
Facebook: Babalo barbs cumbe