Change is in your pocket

The Big Issue is a socially responsible non-profit organisation that enables willing unemployed and marginalised adults to take responsibility for their own lives through a developmental employment programme.
PITCH:  Cnr Durban Road and Old Oak Rd, Bellville
AGE:  29


What was the most important thing you learned while working last year?
I have learned to appreciate the opportunities while I have them. I am thankful for a job – any job – and I try to enjoy the time I spend in that job because I know that it won’t last forever.

What’s your greatest asset?
I think it’s my dedication and ability to look on the bright side. When you’re struggling or in need, I think that God hands out a little extra motivation. Mine is in the form of my children.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Hopefully in a permanent job, and in my own home with my girls.

Bonginkosi Namathelana

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Bonginkosi Namathelana has been a vendor for six years, on and off. He recently left The Big Issue for just over a year, as he had a full-time job. He returned in August this year and is now in need of as many visits as possible to build up a regular, reliable customer base. He sat down with us to talk about his work experience and what he has learned since being away.

I first joined The Big Issue in 2010, because I had been unemployed for a long time and was in desperate need of a job to support myself. I enjoyed selling the magazine and then got a job as a waiter in 2012.

The owner of the restaurant let me go when he could no longer afford to pay me. I was unemployed after about eight months of full-time work, so I went back to selling the magazine.

Last year, I received another full-time job as a cleaner at a hospital. It was brutal – imagine cleaning a hospital – and wasn’t my first choice, but beggars can’t be choosers. The job lasted only about six months, because the pay was too little for me. I had to give it up because I couldn’t afford to pay my rent and support my children.

I am a father to two beautiful girls, aged four and eight. I currently live with my brother in Delft. I don’t pay much rent, but I have to contribute in any way I can and support my girls. I have to take this into consideration when looking for work.

During my time at The Big Issue, I have completed a forklift-driving course and I have also got my driver’s licence. This has helped me in my search for a job. Not long after I gave up the hospital job, I found another one as a driver’s assistant for a company based in Maitland. My contract ended in July this year and this is why I’m back at my pitch.

Being back hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. There are new vendors in the area now and I have lost my customers. I am hoping that people will read my story and support me again.

I would like to find permanent work again as I enjoyed being busy, but selling the magazine will have to do for now. I am grateful to have The Big Issue in desperate times; I don’t know where I would be without The Big Issue’s help.

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