New Opportunities: Ashley Quimngqoshe

New Opportunities: Ashley Quimngqoshe

A shift in his attitude during a time of depression, catapulted Ashley onto a path of new opportunities.

Ashley Quimngqoshe was raised by his Mom who headed up a single parent household after his Dad died.  “I was 1 at the time, the youngest of 5 children.  We lived in Kayalitsha and having never known my Dad, I accepted this as my life.  My mom has been amazing, she is the person I look up to.  She worked hard to ensure that we had stability and a good home.  She’s been such an inspiration to me and my siblings through our growing up years.”

“I guess we were fortunate in that we had an extended family from Newlands – the family my mom was a domestic worker for.  They have taught and guided me since birth.  They paid for my primary school education at St Augstine’s, offering me extra tutoring in math and English.  From primary school I went to Oude Molen high school – a technical school, where I became interested in architecture and civil engineering.”

“I can say that my life until high school was carefree and happy, more than a lot of kids from the townships can expect. I had a strong sense of security and belonging because of my mom.”

“In high school I went through the regular adolescent identity crises, wanting to fit in and impress my peers.  I didn’t get involved in drugs or stuff like that, but due to my peers, and not wanting to appear too smart, I stopped taking school seriously which resulted in me failing Gr11.  I failed so badly I didn’t want to go back to school, but my Mom insisted that I went back to face my shame. I felt so humiliated, but I learnt a tough lesson, and retrospectively I am grateful to my Mom for forcing me.”

“It was embarrassing having my friends move into Gr12 whilst I stayed back, but I learnt not to allow negativity into my life.  I chose to embrace positivity, and formed new friends in my repeat year.  Because of peer influences costing me a year, I chose to make mainly one close friend who was aligned to my future plans. I’ve learnt that hanging out with losers doesn’t make me a winner, and realised that who you hang out with can make or break you.” 

“I passed Gr12, but not well enough to follow my dream of doing architecture.  I applied to do a 1 year higher certificate in IT at CPUT, but failed all my modules.  I hadn’t anticipated the huge adjustment between school and college and just didn’t handle it very well.”

“I felt like my life was hanging on a thread after CPUT.  My confidence was very low after my school and my CPUT failures, resulting in me just hanging around at home the following year – I was deeply demotivated.  I had no direction, no ambition and absolutely no idea how to take my life forward.  I didn’t realise it then, but I was very depressed and didn’t see the purpose of life at the time.” 

“My Mom found it very tough having me at home so dejected and that put extra pressure on me.  Fortunately my siblings pushed me to go back to study.  It was during this time that I met up with a friend of mine who was doing accounting at CPUT.  He saw potential in me and together we started an organisation “iKusasa Lethu” (meaning our tomorrow).  Our objective was to motivate youth in high schools.” 

“Volunteering in the schools was empowering, but I still I didn’t have a plan for my life.  I was encouraged to reapply to CPUT for a new course.  At the same time I heard about Life Choices at the school I was mentoring at.  We asked one of their counsellors to come and do HIV testing, and she shared the work and goals of Life Choices which included the Coding Academy. I decided to apply  and was interviewed twice telephonically and then invited to a one day boot camp where we played thinking games.  We had to achieve a certain score to go to the next round.  It wasn’t easy but with my math ability I passed.  I was then invited to attend a 2-week induction course at Life Choices.  The facilitators started opening our minds.  The sessions were mind-blowing and had a big impact on my life.  I remember feeling that this was the change I had been seeking, but hadn’t known how to find.  I started getting excited about my future.  At the end of the 2 weeks, 20 of us passed the criteria resulting in us attending a 6 month coding course – this started a new journey of learning for me.  The coding course incorporated life skills and self-awareness, which gave me a deeper perspective on life.  We were exposed to meditation, Biodanza and motivational speakers – all of this helped me to mature very fast.”

“Life Choices gave me a chance to dream and to become successful in my life – it helped open my mind enormously.  Whilst I was still a coding student, I did something I would have never had the courage to do before Life Choices. I went to buy gas at a small company in Khayelitsha and when I realised they did not have a website, I asked to see the manager. I offered to build a website for them and explained how it could help their business. They saw the benefits and asked me to go ahead.  They became my first client. They supplied their logos, whilst I asked the questions which helped me write content for the site.   I also purchased a domain name for them.  They were super impressed on completion of the site.”

“After successful completion of the coding course I got an internship at a company in Sea Point owned by a mother and her daughter.  Initially I was happy to be working but during the 6 months we were treated poorly, often being shouted at. The disharmony impacted the work environment but I managed to stay positive and respectful in spite of this.” 

“After my internship, I started applying for new jobs through online agencies.  I must have applied at about 30 companies.  Eventually I was interviewed by Side Click.  I really enjoyed their ethos and have been working there now for 6 months.  It is intense but I’ve learnt and grown a lot and see that there is a career path here for me.”