It’s amazing how many of us describe ourselves as poor. Truth is that while I grew up relatively poor, I know that there are those who are poorer. If you have one or both of your parents alive and employed then you are not the poorest of the poor. If you have a sister or brother who earns some income irrespective how little then you are not the poorest of the poor. If you don’t have parents but your have some source of income, irrespective of how small, then you are not the poorest if the poor. Nobody earns enough, nobody gets the kind of salary they want. Yeah some get the salary they need but everyone wants more.
Think about this: there are many young people who grow up in homes where nobody is employed, some do not even have parents. They live on the streets, in RDP houses or shacks and every day they wake up with no certainty of where their next meal is going to come from. Despite this many of them walk around during the day mingling with us as if all is well even when they have no idea if the shack they woke up in will still be standing when they get back from their rough day of hustling. Hustle is what they do daily because they have no other way but to hustle. These are the poorest of the poor.
Many of these poorest of the poor are students – some who are working hard the finally have a taste of a better life and rescue their families of the claws of poverty. Some just completed matric and passed with flying colours with distinctions in some of their subjects. But they don’t get bursaries – NSFAS does not or perhaps cannot even reach them. The unfairness of life continues and so they have to get on with the hustle. I interact with such students every day and last night I had a conversation with one of them. A determined young woman who is clearly very committed to making a success of her life. She passed matric excellently, got 91% for Mathematic, she is accepted to university but has been struggling to get a bursary. Me in Pretoria and her in the East Rand, I asked if she had anything to eat and she says, “I don’t even want to talk about that because I am so hungry I feel dizzy at the moment”. My heart sank! Of course she is lucky because she has me, a stranger who doesn’t even know her parents. A stranger who is willing to carry the load with her, to hustle with her. Can you imagine the many other students like who have nobody? Perhaps they did not even get the excellent results she got. Can you imagine what they are becoming?
What are we to do as individuals? We can keep quiet and continue as if all is well, we can climb of their highest mountain and blame their parents, apartheid, government, or white people. But there is another choice: we can intervene by helping where we can – feed and clothe the poorest of the poor. The fact that we don’t have all that I want to have should not stop us from giving and showing some kindness to the poorest of the poor. South Africa is our country and it is our responsibility to make it what we want it to be.#WiseUp