PITCH: Riebeek and Buitengracht intersection, Cape Town, 8001
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Bongiwe would appreciate any help with building a bigger and disabled-friendly dwelling for herself and her family. She also needs assistance to get her grandchild into a school that has facilities for disabled children and that is closer to home.
If you would like to assist her, contact The Big Issue office on 021 461 6690 or email info@ bigissue.org.za.
Solomon’s sound of music
Forty-five-year-old Bongiwe Mqhakayi is looking forward to a prosperous new year, especially since 2020 marks her first decade as a Big Issue vendor. 2019 was tough for the single mother of four.
“I didn’t achieve much. But I’m grateful for the little that I have and I’m looking forward to a productive 2020,” – she says.
Bongiwe lives in Lower Crossroads and faces many challenges as a single parent. Her only son is in prison and her oldest daughter, who has a disabled child, is unemployed.
“I share a room with my kids and granddaughter. We can’t even fit two single beds in my place; that’s how small it is. The conditions are very bad because the environment is not conducive for a disabled person. Lower Crossroads is also a high-crime area, and all I can do about it is to pray,” – she says.
Like many of her fellow vendors, Bongiwe’s day starts at 5am, as she has to get her two youngest daughters ready for school before heading out to her pitch at the Riebeek and Buitengracht intersection in Cape Town. Some days are longer than others.
“Today is one of those days when I have to put in extra hours at my pitch because I can’t go home with only this R35 that I have. How will I travel tomorrow, or feed my family with this amount?” – she asks.
Despite the challenges she faces selling The Big Issue, Bongiwe perseveres daily and ensures that she is at her pitch come rain or shine; as her family depends on the income she gains from selling the magazine. Her household’s only other income is her granddaughter’s disability grant, as well as the child support grant she receives for her two younger daughters.
“That is not enough for us to survive at all, hence, I make it my priority to at least go home with something daily,” she says.
The Big Issue has been a beacon of hope to Bongiwe and her family.
“I’m glad for this opportunity to be self- employed and bridge the poverty gap in my family,” –she says, adding that she’s grateful for the support she receives from her customers.
“I hope our customers understand why we are selling the magazine. We value their support; without them we would be homeless and go hungry. I pray that they continue to support us this year as we need them to survive.”