Youth Month is a special month, as it provides the opportunity for Engen to reflect on its commitment to helping gifted South Africans explore new horizons. Dharfeur Hendricks, who despite having an incredibly challenging childhood, plagued with learning difficulties and bullying is one of many, whose horizons have opened widely thanks to Engen.

Dharfeur who grew up in Wynberg, Cape Town and attended Wynberg Boys, said his early school years were not happy times. “I was diagnosed with ADHD and I had to have six ear operations by the time I was 13. I found it very difficult to understand and keep up with the work in class and 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.”

In high school life improved for Dharfeur. In grade 9 he went to Turkey as an exchange leaner 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 his shaky beginning, Dharfeur matriculated with four distinctions, and went on to study 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 90’s. 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. Each day I look forward to working at Engen with optimism and excitement. Learning new skills and tackling challenges head on to broaden my knowledge base. It has been a real eye opener knowing that I can now implement what I have learnt at University. This to me has been most gratifying.”

Dharfeur is eager to offer advice to other young South Africans, calling on the youth 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 says his proudest achievement was completing his first 21km half-marathon.  “I was severely overweight, but I developed a passion for running and healthy eating and now that I am 25 kgs 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, rather it was 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.”

“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has been a life altering experience for all of us.  I am fortunate in that Engen has fully considered the health and safety of their staff and granted us the opportunity to work from home. Despite these unprecedented times, I have opted to rather focus on all the beautiful positives that have come out of this. There has been a deeper connection to my community and quality time with my family,” he added.

By continuing to attract and grow minds and extraordinary talents like Dharfeur Hendricks, and to shape the careers of gifted graduates, Engen continues to change our world.  Helping young gifted South Africans to explore new horizons proves once again that as a company, Engen is committed to building future experts and leaders.

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