This is 23-year-old Rui Da Silva from London. He works as a youth worker and music producer. His mother Elnete worked extremely hard for him and his sibling to have a good upbringing in the UK and now Da Silva wants to do the same for his mum.
Elnete currently works as a dinner lady in London. Da Silva told BuzzFeed News: "My mum has been cooking for most of her life and she’s always wanted to study. Coming from West Africa, formal education is of a certain importance. But since coming to England, as a single mother, the opportunity to study has been out of reach."
Da Silva said his mother was studying a dental nursing course when they first moved to the UK but his father died when he was 5 and his younger sister was 1. "She had to leave her studies behind," he said.
He said that in 2013, his mother survived a battle with breast cancer. "Post her battle, she found serenity with cooking. So while some had comfort food, my mum had comfort cooking."
This summer, Elnete was given an unconditional offer from the University of West London to study professional cookery. Da Silva told BuzzFeed News: "When she got it, she was over the moon and immediately focused. She started talking about buying pens." But he said she had to gain a level 2 NVQ before she could study as an undergraduate, and was distraught to learn that she was not eligible for financial support.
Da Silva said that he really wanted his mother to go to university despite this obstacle. "I spent weeks searching for funds, grants, loans, but came to realise that GoFundMe is the best choice," he said.
So far he has raised over £1,280. "The response has been so good," he said. "I did not think we would receive over half the money, in such a short space of time."
In the appeal, Da Silva writes:
Born and raised in Sao Tome eating Jackfruit for breakfast. Catching and cooking fish for dinner. Moving to Portugal, sampling a range Afro-Portuguese food. Living in England, cooking culturally English food at work. Feeding the family with a beautiful amalgamation of Afro-Portuguese-British food. Countless attempts at appropriating every recipe she can get her hands on. Later catering to her son’s vegetarian diet for the last 3-4 years. My mother’s palette is vast, rich and still, for her, not vast enough.
There's a whole heap of lovely messages left in support of Elnete.
Even on social media:
He said that he wanted to surprise his mother with the funds, but accidentally included her in a WhatsApp broadcast about the crowdfund and he also thinks she may have seen his friend's Facebook post about it.
"I didn’t think this part through," he said, adding he's not entirely sure if his mother knows.
"My mum isn’t familiar with the GoFundMe platform... On top of that, she’s quite sneaky and wouldn’t tell me that she knew. So for the past few days, me and my sister have been confused as to whether she knows what’s actually happening. We’ll find out when we’ve achieved our goal. Should be quite funny."
Da Silva is hoping he can reach the fund goal in order for his mother to study her diploma. "She would feel scared, excited, happy, and determined all in in one," he said.
"And also, I think she’ll feel a sense of control over her life. Working for many years to pay the bills, at a workplace that doesn’t cater to her creativity. I think being in university would really fuel her to get creative and embrace her self-value as a capable individual."