In 2018 I met Raymond, the Sizanani coordinator at Tshepo.

 Raymond came to Johannesburg to escape poverty but also saw it as an opportunity to live outside his comfort zone. He got involved with Northcliff Union Church, through his brother who was already involved at the church.

 After working as a labourer on a construction site for a year Ivan Martin (Tshepo board member)  introduced him to the organisation. He started by polishing cutlery as part of a job creation project called Tswelopele. When the programme was discontinued in 2012, he started working in the vegetable garden, weeding. He says       he remembers just doing the job “…day after day”.

 Raymond described Tshepo as a place that helps people to achieve their goals and to dream.

 He worked his way through various jobs at Tshepo, learning to relate and to work with people, and started working as the Sizanani Coordinator in 2013. A big part of the job to him is to constantly learn.

 His goal is to “…add value to people as I’m growing and getting to know more about myself”. “I want to accomplish this by walking alongside people and offering my      help, getting involved, offering encouragement and prayer.”

 When catching up with Raymond, as the world is slowly returning to a way of life we knew beforehand, I asked him about the past two years pandemic and lockdowns and what he had learned.

 Raymond says the past two years have been “emotionally and mentally challenging and exhausting.” He, however, does recognise that the turbulent circumstances led him closer to God and he found it comforting and calming. Raymond says he learned to love unconditionally and learned to be generous to those around him. Generous with his energy, love, compassion and kindness towards those around him.

 When asked about his dreams; Raymond says he would love to go back to school to study and travel the world.

 Raymond forms part of the backbone of Tshepo Community Development Initiative, which serves the community.