"I will not do crime" (SA)

A new team of short-term volunteers arrived at the Hub in South Africa in February this year. Armed with compassion, humility and an open mind, they embarked on a four-day community stay to conclude their orientation programme.

The team of six returned with a sparkle in the eye and many stories: some humorous, some sad, some hopeful.

Tommy, from England, and Jon, a Canadian, spent their weekend with Silo Ngobeni in Clau Clau, a semi-rural settlement in the north-eastern province of Mpumalanga.

20-year-old Silo is only in grade 11. Since his mother died in 2008, he has been living alone in a one-room, make-shift house. On first impression life doesn’t seem too bad. Silo seems to have all the essentials: food, clothing, water, a bed, even electricity.

As the weekend unfolded, though, it became obvious that Silo is a very lonely young man. He told Tommy and Jon that often he doesn’t have anything substantial to eat for as long as a week on end. Despite the hardship, however, Silo is determined not to revert to crime. Instead he looks to God for help.

Silo wrote two short stories that he has agreed to share:

Life: Complicated, Hard, Unbelievable, Good

By Silo Ngobeni

Truly I like living in this world, but if things go like this, I won't be happy or make it through. I will be excited if God can take my hand and walk with me from this hard life. I wish things would change for me, and live like other kids in my community. If I had super powers I would like to change this world to a New World, and everyone live a happy life: physically and emotionally.

I wonder why God made us live a different lifestyle. I think is a good thing to plan for our children even if we're not educated. Life is hard, but dead could be easy. Everyone want to live in this world, but if you think about the troubles you could face in life, you could hate being in this world. Noone want to die, but you can die in an easy way. I like the words from Peter Tosh song that he said, “Everyone want to go to heaven but no one want to die.”

“Please God I need your guidance and your protection, without you in this world I am nothing. God I keep my faith in you. I know you can take me from lower class to upper class.” God! Lord Jesus! I know you won't let me suffer, go to school with an empty stomach. Please make a way for me. I promise you I will live a holy life! “AMEN.”

A strong man stands for himself, but a stronger man stands for others.


My mother: Sick, Love, Death, Strong

By Silo Ngobeni

My mother was a good person, everybody like her. I'm going to tell my children about her. Noone is gonna take mom's place to me, and no one I can compare to her. She was to love me and care for me, she was a brave woman. My mom was always want to see me happy and excited. She does whatever it takes just to see me smile.

My mother gets sick when I was very young and I didn't know that she's suffering to sickness. She was seemed like a normal person. She was suffering from cancer. In early year 2008, she's started to be very sick. I was 15 years, Mom used to tell me she's going to die one day. I doesn't understand what she mean, but it was a truth.

Nothing but the truth, Nothing is better than love, These arms won't let your heart down.


Tommy and Jon realised that Hands at Work is about so much more than providing food and shelter, it is about relationship.