Tuesday 23 April 2013

The Ordinary Face of the New South Africa

A letter I wrote to the Editor of local newspapers:

Dear Editor

South Africa is a country with immense potential – we have the people, the resources, the spirit to become not just a continental leader, but an inter-continental world leader. Through our tragic past, we have evolved in ways that other, older, democracies haven’t.  

That potential is threatened by a greed and corruption that sees the few become bloated fat cats, while the masses are starved of both hope and food. When a man is unable to find work to feed his children, how can he ever develop the latent talents and gifts he has?

Patric is such a man. I have known Patric since 2008, when I met him selling homemade  brooms and brushes along our street.  He had to leave school to help his mother feed & educate his siblings. Whether he is dripping wet from a highveld storm, or baking under the hot summer sun, Patric is a young man who always smiles as he enthusiastically sells his wares. His hopes for the future and his belief in this country make me proud to be South African.

This year Patric is trying to gain a more reliable and better paid job as a driver or in any other capacity in a company that offers him future prospects. Being the enterprising young man he is, he has pro-actively gone about seeking to make a better life for himself and his family. You can see this from his letter, which I have transcribed below. From my years of knowing Patric, I endorse what he has stated there.

As our country limps along, licking old wounds (apartheid’s legacy) as new ones (like President Zuma’s infamous Nkandla & the Guptagate scandal) are gouged out of our hopes, I would like to help Patric achieve his dream of a better job and thus a better future for himself.

Why do I not employ Patric, a more concrete form of help than writing a letter? As an ordinary working family, my husband and I employ four people in our house & garden, my sister and her husband the same number, and my recently widowed mother employs three. Not because we each need that many workers, but – being ordinary people who aren’t able to change all that’s wrong in this world  — we feel this is a trifling way we can try to change a few individual lives by giving them a small sense of achievement & self-esteem. In addition, we have recently made a substantial pension payout to our old gardener, who we supported from 2004 when he had a stroke and was unable to continue working (he passed away recently and we made a final lump sum payment to his children.) Sadly for Patric, though, that means we are financially at maximum employment capacity for a small family like ours.

However, I’m still hopeful that I can help Patric in another way – by asking other people for help. That’s where the xxxxx comes in!

Do you know The StarFish Story?

It tells of a young girl who was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement. She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

In the spirit of The Starfish Story, would you use your considerable power and readership to help this one young man? Perhaps you can run a human interest story  and appeal to a far wider audience than I ever could – with God’s grace and a little bit of luck, one of your readers will be touched by the story and be in a position to offer Patric a job that has a better chance for him to use his talents and work towards his dreams.

Can the XXXXX help make a difference to one man’s life? Can you help Patric by publishing a story about him and asking your readers for help? The cell phone number Patric gave me is 076 814 1975

Yours sincerely
Judy Croome
Johannesburg, South Africa
Twitter: @judy_croome

Patric’s Letter (scanned copy of original can be emailed on request)

“Nhlanhla Lucky Jali (Patric)
ID 860615*******
26 Years old

Drivers Licence – Code C1
Languages Spoken – English, Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho (basic), Afrikaans (basic)
Education – Grade 10 Amandlethu High School Inanda Durban Kwa Zulu Natal (2003)
Cell Phone contact – 076 814 1975

Employment: 2003 – to present – self-employed entrepreneur

I have been selling household items door to door since 2003 when I became the sole breadwinner for my family.

I am a highly motivated individual who is working very hard to improve my life and that of my family.

My goals are to have a good job which will allow me to support my family and to be able to build my own house one day. I value education and would very much like to send my children to a good school.

I play soccer for the Phola City team when I am in Durban, and value the camaraderie of team work.

While I do not have formal employment experience, I am a dedicated and hardworking individual who would be an asset to any company. I am prepared to work my way up within the company.

Thank you for considering me.”

Can anyone out there in the wide world help Patric find a job?


Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Judy .. this is heart-warming and heart-rending as there must be so many, who have not been given any opportunity in the New South Africa after so many promises with Nelson Mandela's release ..

I sincerely hope Patric finds some education, an opening, a way forward ..

Like the starfish .. it is one at a time ...

Many many thoughts to Patric, and I sincerely hope your letter will bring some good news ... Hilary

Jan said...

Judy, thank you for reminding me about the starfish story. To see your actions helps me remember that we can all make a difference with small actions. I am wondering lately how I can help as the UK faces some tough changes and times.

Jan said...

I do hope that your letter will help Patric.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HILARY - there's a lot of work we still have to do here, but one starfish at a time! :):) Thanks for your good wishes for Patric - hoping something pops up.

JAN - that starfish story is always so comforting and inspiring when I feel overwhelmed by all that needs righting in this cruel world. Hope you can find your small starfish that you'll make a real difference too! :)