Shameem Damon was not a very serious kid. He was too playful in school and he got just enough to get into university. As one would have expected, he dropped out of university and that is the end of the story, except that it is not. Last year, at the age of 34, Shaheem completed his Masters degree, and the story begins like this.
Born and raised in Portland Mitchell’s Plain, Shameem’s father, Nazeem, was the sole breadwinner and his mom, Nadia, stayed at home to take care of them. He says that looking back, he did not realise how lucky he was to have a dad with a job and a mom that would have done anything to make sure that they were happy and taken care of. Sometimes, he’d wear hand-me-downs but there was always food on the table and a warm bed to sleep in.
At school, he never took any of the lessons seriously, did not do very well and managed to pass by just enough to get into university. Two days before he was to attend his first university lesson, he was involved in a serious car accident which left him with two broken legs. He tried to attend his lessons but it was difficult getting to class on crutches and he says that, because of the accident, he was also not emotionally ready. He eventually dropped out and chose to work. Despite these not being glamorous jobs, he says it gave him an opportunity to see how the real world works.
Shameem eventually returned to University in 2004, completed a BCom degree, worked as a sales consultant, then got a job as an operations officer. During this time, he met a girl by the name of Aneeqa, they fell in love and they got married. The not-so-serious Shaheem had started thinking about the future and what he wanted for himself and his family.
After graduating, Shameem applied for several positions but struggled to secure a job. He eventually secured a position at an Islamic bank, but he admits that, as a graduate, the salary was not what he thought it would be. He says however that he could manage with what he had and focused on getting experience and building his career. Shameem’s efforts as a hard worker started to get noticed and he received a better job offer. He was no longer a kid that took everything for granted. He appreciated his wife, his parents and he felt very lucky to have a job. He did however, want more.
In 2015, while managing the ‘foreign national informal trader’s market’, he decided that he wanted to complete his Honours. He started to display the leadership qualities that he had always possessed, even if he did not know it as a boy. He raised his hand in class, gave his opinion and was willing to solve any problem that was thrown his way. These leadership qualities also morphed into deep concern for the needs of other people.
During his Honours year, he was asked, along with four of classmates, to identify and help an organisation as part of their Ubuntu Community Project. The organization that they chose to help and which was identified by Shameem, was the Beaconvale Community Frail Care Centre. He admits that he did not know that the centre exists, despite living in the area, but what he saw broke his heart.
The frail centre had become a place where the elderly was dumped. It was also partially funded by the government, which meant that the centre did not have a lot of money. The centre’s management had told them that to ensure the safety of their patients, they needed to cordon off a wing for the patients that suffer from dementia, but lacked the funds to do so. Shameem and his team decided that they would make this wing a reality, and for more than a month, they went about painting, tiling, decorating and hanging curtains on to a separate wing of the facility. They managed to get sponsors and also secured a special reduced rate for the maintenance of the wing. The students had taken much of the financial burden on themselves, so the centre’s management was especially grateful for this.
By the time Shameem completed his honours degree in 2016, there was no sign of the kid who did not take his schoolwork serious. He had developed a taste for success and more importantly, he had begun to believe in his own ability to succeed. You see, the moral of this story might be the following. Sometimes, kids don’t pay attention in class because they think they’re not smart enough to get anywhere in life. They think to themselves, what would be the point of studying. Maybe Shameem was one of these kids. Maybe he thought that he was not smart enough and he would not achieve much. If he did think this, then he was wrong.
In 2017, Shameem signed up for his Masters Degree in Commerce and graduated in 2018. His Masters thesis was done so well that he presented it at the ‘15th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning’. The paper that he presented is also featured as an academic chapter in the book that was compiled for the conference.
Shameem attributes his success to the support he got from his wife, his parents, the rest of his family and his wife’s parents. He says that what sets your path is surrounding yourself with positive people and working hard towards your goal.
It took Shameem most of his life to realise that he is not a kid without potential. It will take him another few years to reach the heights that he is destined for, but he will get there. So will the rest of us, if we believe.
Source(s): www.iol.co.za (edited from an article written by Fouzia Van Der For), other