A lot of people I know, find the car guards in South Africa an irritation. For those not from here...a quick explanation...due to the high levels of unemployment here, a lot of people have resorted to 'guarding your car' while you go shopping or what ever. When you return you give them a few rand, but it's up too you really.
Now me, I've always had a soft spot for these guys...at least they are trying something and not sitting at home doing nothing.
Over the past two years, I have gotten to know, the group of car guards at our local little suburban mall. They are super friendly, always willing to help...even when you have 'not a cent' on you. But there was one gentleman, named Gideon, who I landed up speaking to the most...it was mainly about the weather, and the general 'how are you's'. But every now and again...this would happen...
Last year, one of the stores , in the mall, employee's were all striking in the parking lot....and as Gideon was walking me too my car...he just shook his head, and said to me "Look at those people ma'am, they don't know how lucky they are...I would do anything for their jobs."
A few months ago...Gideon had helped me pack my bags into my car...and as I was getting in, he called after me, and said "Ma'am...you work in marketing don't you?" Completely shocked at the question, and frantically looking down at my chest to see if maybe I had had a name tag on or something..." I nodded back. He just laughed and said, "I thought so, all marketing people are forgetful "...and he handed me a magazine that I left behind in the trolley. He walked away, laughing and saying "It's okay you have had a busy day"
Ever since then, Gideon has fascinated me...and we continue to chat every time I see him.
Then about two weeks ago...I wasn't in my usual rush, so I got talking to him properly. I always thought he was South African, but in fact he is from the Congo. Him and his new bride...they got married just three months ago....moved to SA two years ago, as he couldn't finish his studies, and the situation there was becoming worse. So they decided to come to SA (on an asylum basis) and to see if he can earn some money so that he can return home to complete his degree.
Yip, his degree...and not just any degree...his degree in Medicine. Can you believe it? He has completed three years, and has three to go. Wel slaan my dood!
The man that helps me every day, that stands in the sun and rain...with the biggest smile on his face....should in fact be saving lives, helping people. He should be a Doctor.
It left me feeling, so helpless, so shocked, so ashamed, so impressed, so...I don't even know what.
Since then, I have had numerous chats with him. He has tried to approach the Universities for assistance. He learnt English in three months. His new wife is a nurse. They have no family here. He wants nothing more than to be a doctor, here or back home.
I don't know what I can do, but I am going to do something...I need to help this man. Even if it is getting him a better job, so that he can earn more money. I have no idea where to start...but I am going to try. And I'll keep you all updated.
This whole story got me thinking, how many other 'Gideons' are out there, guarding our cars, handing our pamphlets at the robots, just doing what they can to survive...it makes me sad...very sad.
PS. If any of you have any suggestions on what I can do, or who I can contact, to help Gideon out....please let me know.
Edited to add: Thank you all so, so, so much for your awesome comments and feedback...I will be replying to those of you that offered advice etc...thank you, thank you, thank you.
15 hours ago