Fatima Asmal and her mother were staying at a hotel in Hilton, KZN when they met a young man with the most inspiring story giving them hope for South Africa!
Fatima Asmal, a freelance journalist, was staying at a hotel in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal when she encountered a person that truly inspired her. She was at the hotel, near Pietermaritzburg, to support her son during a cricket tournament.
While at the hotel, she met a young man named Siyabonga* who had such an inspiring life story that it renewed hope for Fatima and her mother.
“The area of Hilton oozes symbols of wealth – lush green grass, artisan coffee shops, dozens of bed and breakfasts and private schools. Not very far away is Sweet Waters, a rural area – one of many in SA; where poverty is rife.
Tonight I met Siyabonga, 22, who is a waiter at the hotel we are staying at. He brought some hot drinks to our room and we got chatting.
He is an orphan from Sweet Waters. Whilst schooling at a public school there, a “white man” decided to help him study hospitality and paid for him to do so (he excitedly showed me his graduation pics). When he began earning a basic salary plus tips as a waiter, he took a R30 000 loan from a bank and began renovating his grandparents’ RDP house (he showed me pics of this too).
Tonight Siyabonga told me (because I asked) that he has just R5000 left to pay on his loan.”
Fatima was moved by his story and his willingness to help his grandparents out once he was in a stable job.
“I was so touched by his story and I felt that a young man supporting his grandparents and sister should not have to bear the burden of what is really not, to many, a major debt amount.”
Fatima decided to help Siyabonga out. She sent a broadcast message on her Whatsapp, sharing his story and asking if anyone would be able to assist in paying off Siyabonga’s last increment of debt. Within seconds, her friends had pledged the full amount and more to help Siyabonga out. The moment made Fatima realise that there is such a goodness rooted in South Africans.
“Barely had I started sending out my [message] on WhatsApp and one person pledged a R1000; another the R4000 and over and above that pledges kept coming in from people who agreed that I can give the money to him to help him run his household.”
“So yes, our babies are being raped, our women are being violently killed, corruption is rife, inequality is abound. But as long as there’s the light of compassion within us; as long as there’s humanity – there is hope. Like the compassion of the person, Siyabonga knows only as the “white man who was contracted to cut grass at my school” and the humanity of the people who responded to me within seconds.”
Siyanonga’s dream is to be a reservations manager and Fatima is confident he’ll get there soon. This story has ignited hope for Fatima and her friends. Hopefully, by sharing it, it can inspire even more people.
*Name changed to protect privacy