An Atteridgeville woman has turned to baking biscuits to raise the money needed to get her niece through flight school to achieve her dream of becoming a pilot.
Awake since 03:00 on Friday to get the oven going, Doris Temba said giving up on the dreams of Tshepang Ralehoko, who she considers her own daughter, was not an option.
“From the age of four she had a passion for flying,” said Temba, sounding upbeat that the biscuits might just get Tshepang the longed-for flight “bars” – the stripes pilots have on their uniforms.
She said the money they had put together for flight lessons at Blue Chip Flight School at Wonderboom Airport, Pretoria, was running out, and by August they knew they had to come up with a plan.
Tshepang was also not having any luck with bursaries, even though she was getting in the upper-70s for her exams.
They sat down at the table to have a think about how she was going to achieve her dream.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m good at baking’, and she said, ‘I’m good at baking too’,” Doris told News24. “And I said, ‘Well, let’s get in the kitchen!”
Friends got to hear about their mission to sell biscuits and baked goods, and one designed a flyer advertising her baking.
Others shared it on WhatsApp and somebody suggested posting it on Facebook, and to her surprise, she started getting orders.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with your support,” read the advertisement.
Tshepang’s mum, Lulu, is excited about the project.
“It has been so much more than expected,” she said, taking the phone from her sister, Doris.
Tshepang is only on her second stripe, but said she hoped her ambitions would take off to get more African and female pilots in the cockpit.
“I feel very grateful,” she told News24. “My mom and my aunt started teaching me to bake when I was four years old.
“I’m not doing this just for myself. I’m trying to create the drive to fund other people in the future that are also black and female.”
She said she needed R60 000 to complete her private pilot’s licence, and then another R250 000 for her commercial pilot’s licence.
“It’s really expensive. Very few South Africans in general, regardless of colour, will be able to afford something like that. That’s why I’m trying to start the drive to get more youth involved.”
Tshepang also has to pay for accommodation close to Wonderboom so that her training is not disrupted if there is a protest that blocks the journey from Atteridgeville, Tshwane.
“She is so passionate. You should see her eyes when she talks about aviation, she just changes,” said Doris.
She is offering her baked goods to individuals who want something to nibble on at home, or companies who want to treat their staff, or present them as gifts.
For now, Doris will deliver within a reasonable driving distance of Atteridgeville, as the small profits will be eaten up by petrol if she goes further.
However, people from further afield, like Cape Town, are paying for a tub of biscuits without expecting anything in return. They just want Tshepang to reach her goal.
She has set up a Twitter account, @AviCareer, for people who want to interact with flight students or learn more about aviation as a career, and has started a hashtag #EveryBarHasAStory, while Doris can be reached on her Facebook page.