I’ve got a job.

Okay, so I have three months to prove myself. But I’ve already got ideas on how to make the shelter pay for itself racing through my mind faster than I can write them down.

Over the next few days, Kitty trains me on how the shelter operates. I’ll do bed bookings, help serve food, buy in supplies, and calculate the wages of the two other shelter workers, and Nozi who runs the laundromat. Plus I have to make sure nobody leaves with anything that belongs to the shelter when they check out in the morning.

The pay’s not great, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ve got the job. I’m in the World Cup!

I have big plans for the shelter. Mrs Tshobo and the Board want a self-sustainable centre and I want to help people – give them a chance – like they are giving me.

A day care centre. Corporate cleaning contracts for the laundromat. We’re situated in the centre of an industrial hub with no food outlets, so there’s an opportunity.

There’s an unpleasant hiccup. Nozi’s not happy about my appointment. She’d been pushing for Kitty to organise a job for a relative of hers. He was homeless too. He spent a night at the shelter once and tried stealing from the others.

Nozi tries getting me fired by stealing money from the cash register when Kitty and I go to the kitchen for coffee. It’s the last night of my training, and I’d handled the cash and operated the till alone.

Kitty counts, recounts, then counts the money again. She double-checks the entries in the bookings register for duplicates. “I have to report it, Bhut Ollie. I’m so sorry.”

They suspect it might be Nozi who had done it and she breaks down and admits it and gives back the money. She doesn’t want me to be punished for something I didn’t do.

Ma was right when she said, “Everything you experience, Ollie, both good and bad, create who you are today, and everything you do today creates who you become tomorrow. So always make good choices, and be kind to others. You never know when you’ll need a kindness and where it will come from. Don’t ever lie, cheat, steal or drink.”

I don’t agree with everything Ma said about never doing certain things. But I’ve decided:

I’ll never lie, cheat, steal or drink.

Unless …

When I lie,
I lie down with a clean conscience. 

When I cheat,
I cheat my negative thoughts.

When I steal,
I steal someone’s heart with kindness.

And when I drink,
I drink in the beauty all around me.

And it’s like Kitty and her mother made me realise; the spirit of ubuntu and my parents’ advice influenced my choices, and opened doors for me. They’re small doors, but I see big doors in my future.


Tell us: Should Nozi be fired, or given a second chance? Why or why not? How do you like Ollie’s take on ‘lying, cheating, stealing and drinking’?