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“I have come that you may have life: life in all its fullness.” John 10:10

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Richard Nzima


The mustard seed is finally growing.

The only thing that made sense that night were the stars in the sky above while I slept on the tarmac with my blanket, a big plastic bag. All I could think about was: what am I doing here; what would my late wife want me to do? I couldn’t find an answer any of those questions. But what I knew was that I can’t go back: if I go back nothing will change but if I stay here something might change. I just had to apply faith.

I’m 54 years old, originally from Mpumalanga. Sales and marketing man by profession. I had it all at Mpumalanga, a good job, a beautiful wife who was the love of my life and 3 beautiful children. I was blessed in every sense. And then came 2011 and a part of me passed away – my beautiful wife. Things where never the same after that. After I buried my wife I thought to myself: ‘Do I still want to be here? Two of our kids are already grown-ups; the other is already a teenager – he doesn’t need me close to him that much anymore.’ So I decided I needed some change.

I started applying for some jobs on the internet in different provinces and I got a job here in Durban. I was excited to start my job.

In 2018 I got to Durban ready to start. To my surprise it was all a scam.  So here I was in a foreign province, with my heavy luggage on the streets of Durban and I knew no one. That was me asking for trouble. I found myself asking around for a place I could spend the night for that day.  By then I’d already lost my luggage and I didn’t have enough money for me to get a place to stay. Lucky for me, I made a friend after three days of not sleeping who showed me a place where I could sleep for that night. That place was Emtateni (the Harbour). When I asked him how are we going to sleep here he just gave me a big plastic bag and he pointed to the ground.

I was shocked. I saw about 200 people who sleep there, day in and out. Most of them are from outside of Durban who also came here with a dream of getting jobs. But they also end up living in Emtateni, some for more than ten years. I was shocked! I said "God I don’t want to be here for that long.

”When you are in that position, if you don’t fight and don’t think about the next day, that place will hold you down. Your ideas won’t amount to anything. When you talk to the guys and tell them that uyofesa (‘I am job hunting’) they laugh at you. They know that in this country, when you want a job you get passed around from agent to agent and the agents want money. At some point I walked from Emtateni to Umbilo just to look for a job and as expected they sent me to an agent.

One day a friend of mine told me about the Denis Hurley Centre; he told me that they give you breakfast, lunch and provide you with showers. I asked him "How much does it cost?” He said "It’s for free.” The next day I woke up and went there. While we were waiting for food, I decided to go inside the centre. I saw that on the walls there was the whole history of the centre. I was told when I get there I should look for a gentlemen called Stuart and I did find him. I told him right there and then that I can sell anything, I can even sell him a fridge in Moscow. He laughed; I just knew that bought it. By that point I even forgot that I was hungry. I had to start by selling newspapers at the robots. After a couple of weeks of doing that I realised that people already get the news through their phones. So I went back to Stuart. I told him that I’m ready to sell books now and he gave me a chance. After my first sale, I had enough money to move to a shelter. I went to a Steers and bought myself a delicious juicy burger and I asked them to keep them coming. And I have to say I loved every bite of it. From then on, I never looked back. I put my mind and everything into this. I learnt as much as I can from the other guys. We would mainly sell by the Denis Hurley Centre and on the streets, but I knew that I had to do something different. So I decided to go to shopping centres and do some research, and I came up with a pitch all by myself.

Now I sell books at Windermere Mall. They were so impressed that they gave me six tables on my first day! Southway Mall I also sell there, Queensmead shopping mall I have a tables there also and at Pick’n’Pay Hyper in Durban North. Lucky for me most of the shopping centre managers are women so I charm them as much I can and they give me the opportunity. I also did a tour around South Africa selling books through the Sisonke Indian festival shows. The festival goes to Cape Town, Isipingo, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Newcastle and Pietermaritzburg. I remember when the organiser of the shows told me the news I ran to the shelter got down on my knees by the bed, prayed and cried.

Three months ago we had a retreat at the Botanic Gardens with Denis Hurley Centre and there was a lady priest. She was talking about the mustard seed. She said that what the Denis Hurley Centre does should never end here in Durban but should go all around South Africa. I wish I can see her again and tell her that the mustad seed is finally growing: she prophesied everything.

I’ve been almost everywhere around South Africa and preach the word about the Denis Hurley Centre. I believe that in life there are three things you need Energy, Time and Information. When I went to Mpumalanga, I took with me an article that was done about me by ‘The Mercury’ and showed it to my kids. They cried and asked: "Why didn’t you come back home?” I told them that I had to finish what I’ve started, and I’m not done yet.

I believe my wife would be proud of me.