By Agreement Mabunda
PHALABORWA – Emelda Ralph is a 26-year-old God fearing, ambitious and a driven individual who thrives in a goal-oriented environment. She was born and bred in Lulekani, Phalaborwa.
The young social worker knows what it takes to grow up in a disadvantageous area, overcoming dysfunctional upbringing to being a social worker. Because of that, she excels in every area of life be it academic and professional life.
Ralph went to Nwasorini Primary School and then proceeded to Meridian College where she completed her Grade 12.
She furthered her studies at Witwatersrand University where she obtained her degree in social worker in 2017.
She chose to be a social worker because she was inspired by her dysfunctional childhood where she had to survive on daily basis instead of enjoying.
“I wanted to break the cycle of what I had been through when I was younger. I tried committing suicide and ended up in hospital for almost a week. I tried explaining why I resorted to that and sadly no one believed me, no one cared to listen, but they took the side of my perpetrator instead.
This is when I made a decision that I would help silenced children speak up and be heard, that I would become a voice to the voiceless and be who I needed when I was younger,” she expressed.
Meanwhile, she saw a need for becoming a social worker because she wanted to help people see their strengths instead of their weaknesses and to assist individuals at large to take control over their own lives and to fulfil their potential as human beings.
Furthermore, she drew the influence in her career from people living on the streets as she has always looked after them during her varsity time.
“Street kids influenced my career life in insurmountable ways. They were my driving force and my biggest motivators. I spent most of my time with them while I was still in varsity, we ate and prayed together, we did so much together, as a result I was named “Mother of street kids,” says Ralph.
“While I lost contact with some, I managed to help get some off the streets and gave many of them hope,” she added.
Because of the strongest influence she got from the street kids, she even conducted a research on street kids because she believes that one day, she will be able to advocate for policy reform.
Transforming from being a victim to being a victor is the greatest achievement that the young vibrant social worker is most proud of accomplishing and she believes that every woman can learn one or two things from her, such as self-confidence, Kindness which always prevails and lastly living in the moment.
She further aligned that most people lack knowledge on many social phenomena such as mental health, sexual assault and so many things. She is determined to improve her community by raising awareness and educating people on such topics which she believes it will eliminate stigma and make it easier for people to seek help.
As we celebrate women’s month, we celebrate every woman out there, every mbokodo.
“a woman can achieve anything she truly sets her mind to. If you have a dream you are determined to make a reality, do it. Live in the moment and remember that it’s okay to trip and fall, to feel hurt and vulnerable, but always draw strength from those failures. And lastly, do you, unapologetically”. She concluded.