The story in Saturday’s Register about a South African family that currently calls Humboldt home was heartwarming for myriad reasons.
The United States still remains the land of opportunity, especially for many who live in other parts of the world. For the Bruce and Ursula Kamanga family, they saw the chance to further their education here in the U.S. as a way to escape economic hardship in their native South Africa.
Mr. Kamanga felt stuck in a low-level office job at a mining company.
“I knew that the only way to have a breakthrough in South Africa was to get a better education,” he said, noting that the majority of his higher-ups at Sandvik Ltd., a mining and construction company, had advanced degrees. In today’s world, an education is the economic dividing line.
The stars aligned and the Kamanga family located in Chanute, of all places, where he briefly attended Neosho County Community College before transferring to Kansas State University in Manhattan where both he and Ursula enrolled in classes.
Six years later, he has a master’s degree in business and she is due to complete her master’s degree this spring in mass communications with an emphasis on public health.
It almost didn’t happen.
When the Kamangas first came to the United States in 2009 the country was in the throes of the Great Recession and the hoped-for academic scholarships didn’t materialize.
Long on faith, but short on cash, the family faced facts and bought plane tickets to return home.
Enter Joe and Janie Works of Humboldt, who, when they heard of the Kamanga family’s plight, seemed an answer to a prayer when they loaned them money to stay put.
IN THE BIG scope of things the Workses’ loan — or even gift — is minuscule in comparison to its effect.
And the Workses would be the first to say they are the lucky ones, by having made friends with the Kamangas and their two children, Hope, 12, and Lebogana Zoe, 3, who have become like family.
Bruce, in fact, is now an employee at Joe’s business, B&W Trailer Hitches, while Ursula finishes her degree.
This is all with the knowledge that the Kamangas intend to return to South Africa, where, they say, their newly developed skills are in great demand.
The story has a pay-it-forward theme.
“If I see a chap in the village, and he’s smart and he wants to further his studies — I think it’s the responsibility of me and my wife that we help that child,” said Bruce Kamanga.
Such opportunities lie before each of us. It’s a matter of looking at our fellow man and seeing the possibilities.
— Susan Lynn
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