Our vendors: Nancy (The Big Issue South Africa, Cape Town)

By Yonga Balfour, The Big Issue South Africa

“I’m originally from Dutywa in the Eastern Cape, but I moved to Cape Town in 1989 to find employment.

“I wasn’t lucky in finding a job due to my disability. I was in a bus accident many years ago and the bus caught alight. We had no option but to jump through the windows, and I fell and broke my arm.

“Even though my arm was no longer straight, I could still use it so the Eastern Cape health department wouldn’t classify me as disabled. It was only when I arrived in Cape Town that I was told I’m disabled and started receiving a disability grant.

“I joined The Big Issue in 2010. I was introduced to the magazine by a friend who was also a vendor. It’s a wonderful experience. I love my customers and what I do, and the love is mutual. When they don’t see me at certain times, they ask me where I’ve been the next time I’m on my pitch. My customers are mostly senior citizens, but I sometimes get young adults, too.

“Being an entrepreneur has empowered me so much that I’ve become a stokvel member [a stokvel is an invite-only club where a rotating cast of members act as a credit union, with members contributing on a regular basis]. I visit my home in the Eastern Cape more than once a year, and I am able to spoil my children. I have three kids. I live with my two youngest ones, and my eldest is in Grade 11 in the Eastern Cape. I want nothing but the best for my children. My wish is for them to succeed in their studies and become independent people.

“I like to keep busy, and even work on weekends. I plan on registering for The Big Issue’s sewing development course so that I can polish my sewing skills. I would also like to buy a sewing machine so that I can start a small business on the side, as it gets a bit difficult to work on rainy days.

“I can truly say that I am a happy soul, and that I live for my children.”