A story only Fashion can tell: Xola Hlwele
Another Angel, another breakthrough. Xola Hlwele's story was told for the first time at the #CAFB2018 #FashionBreakthroughs event at the world-renowned One&Only Cape Town, to an audience who were fighting back tears of pride and pure inspiration. Xola's very first display on the runway was made possible by his mentor and friend, Nicolaas Fourie, who sadly passed on a month before this article was written. We felt it fitting to share the very same story of the life of this remarkable young Fashion Designer, who was voted the Angel of the Month during November 2018 for his courage, steadfast determination and his will power.
1996: Xola Hlwele is born to Gloria Hlwele, a single woman living with her husband's family in a one-bedroom home in the heart of Khayelitsha. Three months later, Gloria panics. Xola's health suddenly deteriorates. Gloria rushes him to the hospital, and for weeks on end the doctors conduct test upon test.
Xola lives the next few years of his life in and out of Tygerberg Hospital after receiving a grim diagnosis. Despite the odds, Gloria never gives up, and their family come together to support each other through this - the ordeal of not knowing what tomorrow brings.
But faith is a wondrous thing, ladies and gentlemen, and it led to a reward unlike any other for the Hlwele family. One of Xola's doctors saw the opportunity to assist, and personally contributed to the only treatment option available for his symptoms. Xola's condition, by now, has had an impact on his ability to engage with his teachers and peers at school. He misses at least one day in every school week and Gloria is called into a meeting with his educators.
Xola just doesn't understand, they say. We think he should repeat his foundation phase. Heartbroken, and yet so determined for him to live a full and happy life, Gloria encourages him. Year, after year, Xola tries repeatedly but doesn't keep up. Doctors discover he has partially lost his hearing, and he is referred to the Lalitha School of Skills via his social worker.
Things are looking up at last. Xola graduates with profiency in high level education. He sets his sights on becoming a Fashion Designer. Nicolaas Fourie, a member of the family who had employed Xola's grandmother to work in their home, sees an opportunity to repay the Hlwele family for their devotion and sincerity. He makes a promise to help Xola realise his dreams.
Our #CAFB2018 audience made history in many ways, at our Fashion Show. One of the most memorable breakthroughs was to help officially turn 22yr old Xola's dream into a reality. We welcomed Xola Hlwele, his aunty Nondumiso and his Production Mentor, Lorraine.