Joseph Phukube was begging at an intersection. But he wasn’t begging for money or food. He was holding his CV and begging for a job
It was this honest approach that struck a chord with Pam Green when she met him at the end of June.
She wrote about the interaction on Facebook and before long Phukube received over 1 000 job offers.
Green remembers the meeting: “Joseph, despite being homeless and a drug addict, was honest with me. That is all I asked of him. I told him to be honest and then we’d be able to work through anything.
With Joburg streets flooded with the homeless and begging people, Green said she believed her meeting with the 22-year-old Phukube was not a coincidence, but was meant to be.
Once her posting went viral she knew it could change Phukube’s life.
“In his honesty, he has found work with an employer who hired him knowing these truths and is willing to help him through his recovery and in rebuilding his life.”
“I am always aware that everything happens for a reason. A few events took place in my life a week prior to us meeting. They were difficult and had upset me.
“But I couldn’t work out what the reasons were. Those events brought me to that traffic light that day.”
“I guess that is what resonated with me and stood out enough to make me want to turn back.”
In their meeting on the pavement Phukube revealed to Green how he ended up on the streets and why he left his family in KwaNdebele, Mpumalanga, to look for a job.
He explained how he dealt with drugs and living in very difficult conditions.
This week, Phukube begun his first job in the marketing and sales division at Locomute, a Joburg car-sharing company. Green, meanwhile, has established an initiative called #SecondChance. The project seeks to give those facing difficult times a helping hand and restore their dignity.
“I have always felt the desire to help. In my school days I used to go a couple of times a week and volunteer at orphanages in the afternoons. I started actively initiating projects and getting more involved… it is very important to pay it forward and always remember where you come from.”
Green said that while she has teamed with others on projects, she works alone on the #Secondchances project.
“With the response to Joseph’s circumstances going viral, my dream of creating a formal initiative finally seems possible and I am hoping to put together a team going forward to ensure that Joseph is the first of many to publicly achieve a second chance through this platform.”
She said the biggest lesson after her encounter with Joseph was that many people truly believed in the spirit of ubuntu and still believed in other people’s dreams.
Phukubje is also off the streets after securing work. He’s expected to move into his new home in Tembisa township this weekend.