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:  Protea road, Claremont
AGE:  53

SHOOTING FROM THE HIP

“It has always been difficult getting a job because I have a disability. I definitely think the change will come and more opportunities for employment will be available after the elections.”

Nancy Mgqelana

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Nancy goes onward and upward

Words & Photograph: Lungisa Mnqwazi

Fifty-three-year-old Nancy Mgqelana is a charismatic and ambitious woman with big dreams. Born and raised in the rural Eastern Cape, she came to Cape Town in 1999 to seek greener pastures. She is a single mother of three, and relies on a disability grant and the income she earns from selling The Big Issue to provide for her children.

“Being a single parent has made me a strong woman. When a friend introduced me to The Big Issue in 2009, I didn’t hesitate to sell the magazine, because I knew I could provide for my children and be my own boss. I couldn’t just sit at home and watch my children die of starvation,” she says.

“My firstborn, Luthando (19), has matriculated, but is unemployed and stays in the Eastern Cape. Anita (13), my second-born, is very energetic and I hope one day she can study sports management. Luniko (8) is my last- born. She is sharp-minded and good at mathematics. I wish she could receive a bursary to access a good education at an early age.”

Every morning Nancy leaves her home in Delft and heads to Claremont where she sells the magazine in Protea Road. “Leaving my eight-year-old daughter at home under the supervision of her older sister is heartbreaking because a township is not the safest place for children,” she explains.

Delft is engulfed by poverty and has a high crime rate, but that doesn’t stop Nancy from spreading her wings. “Being a backyarder is not nice or easy because you have to share your small shack with your kids, and have very little privacy.

Selling the magazine has enabled me to achieve my dream of buying material to build my own house in the Eastern Cape. It’s important to have your own home in rural areas to avoid family feuds, especially when you have children. I managed to pay the deposit on the building material by saving half of every cent I make from selling each copy of The Big Issue,” she adds.

 

Nancy hopes that the upcoming elections will improve her life because she has been shortlisted for an RDP house. She is optimistic that the elections will be the start of positive changes for her family.

“It has always been difficult getting a job because I have a disability. I definitely think change will come and more opportunities for employment will be available after the elections.”

Meanwhile, Nancy is determined to carve her own pathway to success.

“My plan is to start a sewing business because I have sewing skills and it will help me provide for my kids and save some money for them when they go to university. I can even save some money for rainy days, as our line of work is never stable. You make sales today and tomorrow you don’t.

I intend to continue selling The Big Issue even after starting my own business because the people in the organisation have become like family to me,” she concludes.

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