info@sa-beyond.co.za | +27 71 364 5977

Dream Big And Fly high

My name is Precious Sibalo. I was born in Bulawayo, schooled at Kungubo Primary School in the rural areas of Plumtree, transferred to Mhali Primary school in Byo and attended Mtshabezi High School in Zimbabwe.

My keen desire and aspiration to be a pilot stems from a primary school trip to Bulawayo airport, now known as Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport. The absence of female pilots among the crew members who greeted us left me with a lot of questions. I later asked my teacher if it was possible for women to become pilots. To my surprise she said yes! And my dream was born.

Having a child at a tender age of 17, out of wedlock, is considered a shame in our society. My high school friends and l had plans to go to a specific university together but my dreams had to be put on hold. I isolated myself during my pregnancy and avoided seeing my age mates due to the shame. My family supported me fully despite the predicament and their support fuelled me to chase my dream and dream even bigger, to make them proud. I knew that I had a responsibility to provide a better future for my child therefore I needed to work hard. I also lost my mom at 17.

Being a single mother and juggling between work and making sure my family was taken care of wasn’t easy. I needed to remain focused and disciplined, especially pertaining to certain life changing decisions like sending my daughter to a primary boarding school at a tender age, to teach her independence and empower her with good education. She started traveling all the way to Qatar to visit me on her own and now nothing amuses her. She always looks forward to new fascinating challenges.

My daughter and I are very close. I’m her mother, best friend, mentor and everything in between. We are inseparable. She came from Zimbabwe to spend time with me in South Africa during the holidays. My little girl is growing to be so wise that I sometimes cannot believe the power of her mind. We flew together during the month of June 2021, just the two of us in a Cessna 172 and she was a vigilant co-pilot. We had so much fun together and she learnt a lot. Having her onboard was validation that when l start flying big jets carrying hundreds of people who are mothers, sisters, brothers etc., l need to do my job diligently.

What I enjoy the most is traveling. I am a travel addict hence I love being a pilot. As a pilot, you need to constantly study and stay current to ensure that you adhere to safety rules and regulations. We are responsible for all the souls onboard so landing safely is a priority. I make it a point to “travel with a purpose”. Not only to experience different cultures, food and sightseeing, but also to visit orphanages, schools for the visually impaired because I believe that “charity isn’t solely about giving donations, it is also about rendering your services or presence”.

The challenges we face as women in a male dominated industry are inevitable, however, I discovered that the secret is having confidence in your abilities, and with knowledge comes confidence. One should study continually to stay current and knowledgeable.

“Knowledge is like a garden, you need to frequently water and cultivate it.”

People around me, especially my friends and family, always believed in me more than I even believed in myself. That on its own meant they saw potential in me and letting them down wasn’t an option. I had many people looking up to me, especially from my village in Plumtree. Being a flight attendant alone amused them, however when I climbed the ladder to becoming a pilot, that was validation that their dreams were valid too. If I did it, they surely can too. Their geographical location should not hinder them from pursuing their dreams. Via my social media platforms, I’m a mentor and motivational speaker to many who are inspired by my story because many resonate with it.

From waitering and modelling, to working as a flight attendant in Qatar Airways, to becoming a pilot, was no easy feat. I faced many challenges including leaving my child back in Zimbabwe. At flight school everything was new to me. I had to work extra hard to pass my exams and flying tests. I ended up investing in a flight simulator which allowed me to practice on my own free time in my room. This helped a lot. I made sure to get a mentor at school and I also sought help from fellow students and instructors. Through prayer, determination & hard work I graduated as a commercial pilot in June 2020.

I believe success is small efforts repeated, until they become a habit.

Philanthropy

My grandmother is a very generous person. I grew up in a home with frequent visitors and I learned to share at an early age. Having lost my mom as a teenager urged me to visit orphanages, because I know how it feels to have no parent.

As a flight attendant I travelled to the school of the visually impaired in Namibia and orphanages back home. As a student pilot I frequently visited and rendered my services, together with Izizwe Projects in Port Elizabeth South Africa, to underprivileged children and people in the townships who lost their homes due to fires.

The one that had an impact was my 2020 ‘birthday with a purpose’ where I traded my birthday presents for the Pick ‘n Pay Covid-19 food relief hampers. Along with my favourite daily devotion (The rhapsody of realities), we fed over 100 families in Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, South Africa, where I was studying to be a pilot at the time.

This year I’m trading my gifts for

1: SANITARY PADS for girls. It’s sad to learn that most girls end up using unconventional objects like old cloths, mattresses etc., because they have no access to sanitary pads.

2: SCHOOL SHOES Many children walk to school barefoot during cold winter mornings and on Zimbabwean hot soils.

3: STATIONERY (books, pens etc.). To equip underprivileged children with necessary tools to better their future. My aim is to give to my rural primary school in Plumtree.

We are working together with social workers and plan to implement a program dedicated to empowering girls, lower the rate of teenage pregnancies and also to ensure equality in education without gender discrimination.

I want to be a pilot who makes a difference and flies with a purpose to empower the youth, to achieve their dreams and increase the percentage of STEM female students in Africa.

I encourage people to dedicate their birthdays for a cause #birthday with a purpose and tag me on my social media pages.

Whether you are a doctor, teacher, student do it with excellence!

Be a student/waitress/aviator that makes a difference.

We are looking forward to getting sponsors who will assist aspiring pilots on my platform.

My advice to young girls – Always remember that you are invaluable and that you have the ability to achieve whatever you set your mind to doing… yes you! Never allow people to tell you otherwise!

We also want to raise a nation of young men who are responsible, courageous and confident who are also our protectors.

www.facebook.com/sibaloprecious
https://pilot-precious.wixsite.com/aviatrix
Instagram: sibalop

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