PITCH: Buitengracht intersection, Cape Town, 8001
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Florence would appreciate any assistance in getting a permanent job, or donations of groceries and clothes for her children.
If you would like to assist her, contact The Big Issue office on 021 461 6690 or email info@ bigissue.org.za.
Florence Gondongwana and her children live in an informal settlement in Khayelitsha. Although the tell-tale signs of her hardships can be seen in the worry lines on her face, the 44-year-old mother is determined to persevere. “I’m a single parent, fending for my kids. No matter how tough a situation may be, I push through the pain because I know God has a plan for my life. When the going gets tough, I just put on my charming smile. “Living on one salary, taking care of kids and paying bills needs consistency and endurance. As a single parent, you can never let your kids know when you are running out of strength, even when overwhelmed. There’s usually a way to work out problems,” she says.
Florence has been selling The Big Issue magazine for 15 years and prays that her children will accomplish great things in life. “I have goals and dreams for my kids to become successful because it would really break my heart to see history repeat itself. My first-born is 19 and is interested in going into welding, which he is currently doing at school. The younger ones haven’t decided what they want to do just yet,” she adds.
Buitengracht Street bustles with activity every day. Florence faces stiff competition from fellow vendors, street hawkers and even criminals who prey on unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians. “Buitengracht is a very busy street, where you find men and women from all walks of life chasing their next meal. Some resort to desperate measures like stealing but if you know your destination in life, you will remain grounded and hustle legally.” Florence does not allow her challenges to deter her from bringing her A-game to her pitch. “Due to the high prevalence of crime at traffic lights, most customers don’t carry cash, and hence The Big Issue introduced SnapScan. At first, I was not familiar with this payment method, but I got used to it because the technology has taken over. It is a much safer for our customers and I always advise them to make use of this method,” she says.
When a new issue of the magazine hits the streets, Florence can earn up to R400 on a day. While sales dwindle as the month progresses, she never goes home empty handed. “We have been fooled into thinking that if we wait for the right time, right place, and right person we will be successful. But opportunity is where you find it, not where it finds you. “The Big Issue has assisted us as vendors. It has enabled us to be our own bosses and I’m forever grateful for that,” adds Florence.