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 Newlands Avenue and M3
AGE:  43


What are your plans for the future?
I don’t really know. I would like to find a permanent job and learn to speak English – or to improve it.

What do you do to unwind?
I like to have a cup of tea and watch TV or listen to music.

Describe yourself in one word?

Thandeka Swartbooi

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Thandeka Swartbooi is a soft-spoken individual with a warm, inviting smile. She is new to The Big Issue, having joined us in April this year, and is in need of a regular customer base. With this in mind, she is hoping that many people will read her story and decide to pay her a visit.

Before joining The Big Issue, I worked as a cleaner for a big company. I was there for three years, but was asked to leave due to budget cuts. It was a real disappointment, because I had relied on my income from that job.

I am a single mom. I have two boys. They are my pride and joy. My eldest son is currently studying – he is 25 years old – and the younger one is in Grade 4 at school. We stay with my brother at the moment. He works in landscaping, so we help each other out financially.

When I came to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape in 1990, I had come to finish my schooling but fell pregnant and had to support myself and my son. I didn’t finish Grade 12 and have always wanted to go back to school, but I didn’t have the time or the money to go back. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our dreams so that our children can live decent lives.

“Sometimes we have to sacrifice our dreams so that our children  can live decent lives”

I did odd jobs for most of my life, working mostly as a domestic worker. When I lost my job of three years, my neighbour told me about The Big Issue. He is a vendor and now we sell at the same pitch. He helps me by giving me

tips on how to approach people, but it’s hard. He has more customers because he has been a vendor for many years.

I keep telling myself that it can and will only get better from here on out. It helps to give myself little motivational talks at times. Selling the magazine is not something that comes naturally to me because I am shy, but I am willing to give it a try.

I hope to take full advantage of what The Big Issue has to offer. I am planning on applying for jobs and getting involved in The Big Issue’s social development projects. I have heard many great things and I am excited to be part of an organisation that helps people in so many different ways.

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