I was born poor, but rich in mind. Life taught me to be a strong man and to do anything that could make me a better man tomorrow. Waiting is good; great things take time. Think twice before doing something stupid as there is no right way of doing the wrong thing. A wise man once told me that it takes a real man to survive. Growing up without my parents was hard, but it was worth it. It’s tough to be a real man.

Senzo was raised by Thoko, his grandmother in Bhadeni village after his mother died in an accident. He didn’t know his father. Life was tough. His granny was sick and did not have the power to work. They had a little garden where they planted their vegetables and they sold them for a living.

Senzo dropped out of school at the age of 16. He had to look for a job in Durban as his granny wanted a good doctor and good medication that they couldn’t afford from selling their veggies. They had no one to help them. He found a cleaning job that didn’t give him enough money. He met boys maybe four years older than him and they were driving expensive cars. He asked if they could find him a better job because he needed it. He explained his grandmother’s condition but they told him they couldn’t help him. They all survived because of crime; if it was not for stealing cars and robbing people, they would be living on the street as well.

He was not prepared for that kind of job, but his granny became very ill. He contacted the boys but they said they had nothing planned. They told him they would do a break-in at the local supermarket just to help him get a little cash. He had never held any weapon before but he had to carry a weapon as he might need it. The security was too tight and he got shot. His friends were arrested and he was hospitalized for three weeks. He eventually switched his phone on and there was a text from the neighbourhood saying that his granny had died two weeks ago and had been buried. They hadn’t managed to get hold of him and they couldn’t wait any longer. It was painful. He kept feeling he had killed his granny, but he thought he was doing what would be the best for her.

You do the crime; you pay for it. He started attending Court but he was too young to be jailed. After telling his story, they found him an orphanage where he could go back to school. He started his classes in Agriculture because his granny had taught him how to plant. He wanted to make her proud and he believed that she could see him from Heaven. His granny was the only family he knew.

He finished Grade 12 but his criminal record haunted him. It was not easy for companies to employ him knowing he had been involved in a robbery. He received an agriculture internship that would turn his life around and he wanted to do something for the people in the village. He opened lots of community gardens and people started working. They were all proud of him. He started an orphanage home where the poor kids could get a proper meal and get proper care they couldn’t get from home.

They started selling their veggies to retailers. He employed more than 50 people in the community. It was hard to believe that a young boy could do this much for the community that was never there when his grandmother needed any help. And this was after everything people heard about him putting his life in danger by being a criminal. No one believed he could change to be the better person and do this much for other poor kids and poor people in the village. Don’t judge a book by its cover.