It was during the winter of 1996, on the 9 th July. My mother was traveling to Zimbabwe and her waters broke just a few kilometers from Pietersburg, now Polokwane. When the child came out the midwives shouted “ke Fana!” meaning “it’s a boy”, and this is how I got the name Fana. After six hours, my mother and I were discharged. Upon our arrival at home, my father, seeing me, said “this is Andrew, for he is one of Jesus’ disciples” and this is how I got my second name, Andrew, thus Fana Andrew Ndhlovu.
In one of the exercises that I have learned since starting work on the What’s Your Story campaign at Heartlines, workshop participants are asked to share with each other how they got their names, and what they mean. So there you have it!
Before I get into how I came to be at Heartlines, let me share a bit more of my story. My father was a police constable in Zimbabwe, while my mother was a cross border domestic worker and a street vendor. I have seven siblings. Up until I was ten years old, we lived in ten different places. It was an unstable start to life.
In February 2009 my mother brought us to live with her in South Africa. It was to a backroom she was living in as a domestic worker in Johannesburg South. We eventually moved to Soweto in 2010 and there I started high school. This is where I got called names like “Kwerekwere” because I couldn’t speak or understand any of the South African languages.
After being at Naledi High school for a year I got involved in the Learners Christian Fellowship and I went on to be the chairperson of this organisation. I had no choice but to overcome the lack of self-confidence I had developed during my childhood. I had to lead other students and preach at assembly. After completing my high school I joined a gap year program offered by African Enterprise called Fox Fire. It was during this time in 2015 as a youth missionary that I developed a love and passion for people.
I was fortunate to be introduced to Brian Helsby in 2017, head of church mobilization at another Christian NGO, Heartlines – an introduction that would open another door to continue to do the work that I love. I joined the Heartlines team in June 2018, and within 5 months I have learned and accomplished a lot.
I became involved in different campaigns which include the values and money project, What’s Your Story? Campaign and the correctional services project, which have impacted me just as much as they impact the communities where we work.
At first I had trouble adapting to the changes that were happening in my life, from meeting new people in the workplace, to taking on more challenging work than I had ever done before and generally changing my attitude, physical appearance and outlook on life.
Fortunately with change, as time goes on, one learns to adapt, and carve out a new way of doing things. With time I saw myself come out of my shell as a shy and quiet person to becoming someone who became able to engage confidently with others.
One of the most memorable experiences I have had at Heartlines thus far is attending the Youth for Christ camp, where we trained young people to facilitate the What’s Your Story? Campaign in their own camps to spread the message of tolerance and storytelling in order for South Africans to better relate to one another. This experience was reminiscent of my time at African Enterprise and re-ignited my passion to connect with people.
At Heartlines I have also improved my computer skills, learnt how to do administrative work, and develop my public speaking skills. I’ve also taken on a new interest in reading self-development books and listening to podcasts, and I am challenging myself to improve in every area of my life.
The What’s Your Story? Campaign has inspired me to share my story with others and to get them to share their stories too. I have encouraged my own family members to share their stories with each other to bring about healing.
I believe that the work Heartlines is doing is relevant to the challenges that people are faced within our society and I encourage others to start partnering with Heartlines to promote good values across South Africa.