PITCH: Strand St & Buitengracht St
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WE NEED YOUR HELP
Ntombekhaya would like to find employment as a cleaner or domestic worker.
If you would like to assist her, contact The Big Issue office on 021 461 6690 or email info@ bigissue.org.za.
Doreen Dyidi Proud Single Mom
Big Issue vendor Ntombekhaya Mhambi seldom misses a day on her pitch in Bowwood Road, Claremont. This charming single mother is determined to redesign her children’s future.
Word and Image by: Lungisa Mnqwazi
Take a drive along Bowwood Road in Claremont and you’re bound to be greeted by the bright smile of Big Issue vendor Ntombekhaya Mhambi.
The ever-generous Ntombekhaya hails from the rural area of Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape, and started selling the magazine in September last year.
She moved to the Mother City with her husband in 2000 in search of a better life.
Determined to make a success of their new life in Cape Town, Ntombekhaya completed an adult basic education and training (ABET) programme and obtained her matric certificate. Unfortunately, her family life didn’t work out as she had hoped, and she and her husband divorced.
“It was not easy at all, but I know that education is the key to success. If it wasn’t for my divorce I would have studied further, but I have no choice but to put my kids’ lives before everything.
“When we arrived here, I depended on my husband for financial assistance, but things got bad when we divorced. He does not provide for me and my kids anymore,” she says.
After the divorce, Ntombekhaya was forced to move back to her mother’s house in Delft. “It was a very stressful time in my life, as I had nowhere to go. I eventually swallowed my pride and went back home to my mom. Your mom’s home will always be your home, no matter what life throws at you,” she says.
As a dedicated single parent, Ntombekhaya is determined to care for her children. “I believe in providing for my family, which is why I’m at my pitch every day, even on weekends, unless the magazine is a bit dated. My customers often wonder when I get time to spend with my family if I’m always at the pitch,” she says.
When Ntombekhaya joined The Big Issue last year, she was unemployed for a while. She has forged a special bond with her customers since then. “Prior to selling the magazine, I worked as a cleaner until I lost that job and hustled without success. A good friend of mine introduced me to the magazine and I have been selling it since then.
“Like every business, selling the publication has its rainy days, but we have very generous customers that are willing to help, even if it means giving us their change.”
Ntombekhaya is grateful to the magazine for giving her the opportunity to feed her family. “Through The Big Issue, I am able to put food on the table. Selling it also enables me to save some money to visit the Eastern Cape now and then.