This is the story of some incredible people I met on my recent trip to Cape Town.
The kid was shot in the lower back by a gangster in his community. He did nothing to deserve it. It was his brother who upset the guy with the gun. But when his brother ran and could not be found, the thug with the gun found his younger brother and shot kid was lucky to be alive. Now with a physical disability, emotionally scared and unable to move about easily, you don't have much of a chance in one of the most dangerous and violent townships on the face of the planet. But he smiles, each and every day.
The kid smiles because there are people who care and have compassion. These people make sacrifices and they turn up for work each day at the local Gugulethu (Tembaletu) Workshop to help people with disabilities have work and learn life skills. It is here, that they also find purpose, friendship, smiles and laughter, and a place to show up and belong to. If this place did not exist, so many young adults with a disability would be hidden away in their home with nothing to do each day.
Paul Briers is the Director at the Gugulethu Workshop. Paul is an inspiring man who daily makes sacrifices to be here. He has transformed this place, when it had only a month before the government was going to close it down. He could work here if it wasn't for the security guards at the gates of the clinic. He literally risks his life some days, simply by walking a couple of hundred yards up the street to buy some lunch. The local women will stand guard and warn him if it's safe to venture up the street. He says the women ironically are the most powerful in this community, even the gangster youth are scared of them.
When Paul drives out of the complex in the evening he will not stop for anyone. He drives straight down the road, fast and out of the township. Paul is a community leader and incredibly inspiring. He is the essence of this quote that I recently read on Instagram;
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” (John Quincy Adams).
What a powerful example and challenge for us all.