To whom it may concern

I am currently a fourth year student at the University of the Western Cape completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology.

I am also a 26 year old single mother who decided to further my studies despite the fact that I fell pregnant at the age of 19. At the age of 18 months my daughter, Labeeka, was diagnosed with Autism. Autism is a neurological disorder which affects many aspects of an individual that has the disorder. My daughter has been categorised as having “severe” autism as she is completely non-verbal, is incapable of following direct instructions and extremely sensitive to certain sounds and lighting. This disorder is incurable but severity can be lessened by the correct intervention. Intervention, however, is quite costly and includes the involvement of occupational therapists, speech therapists, neurologists, among other medical practitioners.

I’ve got a part-time job at a pharmacy in the area but the money I make just covers my traveling expenses to and from university and lunch for my daughter for the week. She is currently at a centre for children with learning disabilities as “normal” schools will not accept her. I was also involved in a car accident two months ago, which left my car in a condition that could not be fixed. I now struggle to get to university on a daily basis. I’ve basically struggled throughout my entire tertiary education, the only support coming from my mother and father. My parents are divorced and my daughter and I reside with my mother and younger sister. I’ve needed assistance throughout my study career as myself and my family do not have the means to pay for it.

IMG_5643Although my circumstances are not ideal, I am still blessed with the opportunity to further my education and plan on taking full advantage of that fact. I work really hard and I am going to make a sure I complete my degree to the best of my ability. This will provide me with the tools to try and figure out the cause of my daughter’s disorder, as a known cause does not yet exist, and provide necessary treatment for those in need.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank George Comitis for the financial assistance this past year. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my studies. They have helped me move one step closer to my dreams and I will be forever grateful.

Yours Sincerely

Shushila Lakay