A young man from Wynberg has shown that having learning difficulties and being bullied don’t have to hold you back.
Dharfeur Hendricks, 24, who attended Wynberg Boys’ High had a challenging childhood. He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and by the time he was 13, he had had six ear operations.
He said his early school years had not been a happy time for him as he had found it difficult to understand what was being taught, and to keep up with work in class. As a result I had to repeat two grades.
“Being older than the other kids made things very challenging and I was constantly bullied and ostracised,” he said.
But things eventually improved for Dharfeur and in Grade 9 he went to Turkey as an exchange student to learn about the Turkish culture and language.
“This was such an amazing experience because it gave me independence. I came back a new person and with the support of my teachers and especially my loving family, who have never stopped encouraging and believing in me, I came into my own and started to flourish.”
Despite the challenges in the beginning, Dharfeur matriculated with four distinctions and went on to study for a B.Com (Financial Accounting) at the University of the Western Cape. “It was always my dream to study at UWC as that’s the university my mother studied at in the early 90s. She grew up on the Cape Flats and her parents had no money to fund her studies, but she is a force to be reckoned with and received a full bursary to study physiotherapy.”
In 2018, Engen recognised Dharfeur’s achievements and academic excellence and awarded him a two-year bursary. In 2020, he become a part of the Engen Graduate Development Programme and joined Engen’s fixed assets department at the Cape Town head office.
“The graduate programme has been truly phenomenal. I’m so grateful to Engen for providing me with this opportunity because I have learnt so much during this short period of time,” he said.
Dharfeur encourage youngsters to believe in themselves and fight for their goals, no matter what.
“There will be times when you will fail, but don’t give up because failure does not mean you will be unsuccessful. Life is like a graph with constant ups and downs. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks because taking that risk could change your life for the better.”
Dharfeur’s other achievements include completing his first half-marathon (21.1km) in March last year in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and having his story featured as part of adidas’ Faster Than social media campaign. “I was severely overweight, but I developed a passion for running and healthy eating and now that I am 25kg lighter, I know that if you truly believe in yourself and work hard towards your goal, you will achieve it.”
Asked what motivated him, Dharfeur said he did not believe that being born smart or intelligent was the key to success but rather consistent hard work. “I live by my grandfather’s motto – humility with ability. The basis for this motto is to always remain humble and prove yourself capable – regardless of the pressure or the situation. By reminding myself to be humble, I avoid being arrogant, which in turn helps me to remain focused under pressure.”