There’s a saying that goes, “People don’t give because they have everything, but cos they know how it feels to have nothing,” and Brian Ngobese’s story doesn’t fall far from that notion. Brian is a 25 year old from Katlehong, east of Johannesburg.
“I was raised by my grandmother, in a four-room RDP house, along with three cousins. Katlehong wasn’t really the best part of the country to grow up in because of its poor infrastructure and lack of basic government services. Furthermore, there were few people one could look up to.
“The only thing I saw growing up were older people wasting their days by consuming alcohol on street corners, and smoking drugs. I remember when I was nine years old, I witnessed a person being stabbed to death for something as small as a cigarette [in Thokoza],” says Brian.
Brian had to be far away from home to get close to his passion.
“I went to a boarding school in KZN until matric, where I did science subjects. However I really enjoyed writing more so I went to the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) where I got my Diploma in Journalism. Growing up in a community filled with crime and discouraging role models basically shaped me into becoming the man that I am today; there was a lot of temptation and pressure to fit in [that I had to resist].”
Brian’s love for books prepared him for the current chapter of his life.
“Reading books and writing my goals down helped me have a clear mind. I literally had to plan my way out, step by step. I still have a notebook full of problems to solve. So that is the person I am now, constantly looking to solve problems and opportunities to make it.”
Brian is now at ITWeb and couldn’t be happier.
“I am a photographer at an IT and ICT business media company. We take images to accompany stories in our online and print publications. I also write business articles on upcoming startups in the IT and ICT arena. I get to travel all around Joburg for different photoshoots and interviews. I also get to learn a lot from upcoming innovators in the tech ICT space and be in the forefront of such innovations.”
He zooms in on his organisation that has captured people’s hearts.
“I run an NGO called GS9, where we help young people get entry-level jobs. I have been blessed to help over fifty young people get employment at leading retail stores. We do recommendations for skilled talent within the entry-level job market. These positions include cashiers, cleaners, sales people and so forth, all over Gauteng. I have had a number of people partnering with me; some of them are handling the administrative process of GS9, and others are contributing their spare time to help GS9 grow.”
He says his passion for photography and people didn’t just grow in a flash.
“The love and passion for the art of photography and helping people has always been there. I grew up a curious child. I wanted to solve problems, bring solutions not only to myself but other people as well. The feedback I have received from the people that have gotten jobs through GS9 is amazing. Seeing someone who could not even afford to buy themselves toiletries now being able to feed their whole family – seeing the joy in their eyes keeps me going.”
Brian says he’s giving back cos he once had nothing.
“I missed countless opportunities in my primary school days because I came from a poor background. I loved playing soccer; at one point I had the opportunity to go to soccer trials in Germiston in 2004 where I played two games and scored four goals. After the match I was approach by a Jomo Cosmos representative. All they wanted was R2000 for registration but because my grandmother couldn’t afford it, I didn’t make it.
“I get my inspiration from everyday people. Seeing young black people get ahead and making a difference in people’s lives motivates me. I am also motivated by the struggles I have been through. Thinking about where I come from makes me determined not to go back, and that helps me work harder.”
Brian’s humble beginnings taught him humility and empathy.
“Growing up in the township is very challenging, more so if you are the kind of person that has a vision and goals. I was a very quiet and reserved person as a child. I became very sad when my grandmother could not afford brand tekkies. Because of that I’m a very accepting person. It taught me to be humble and grateful for every little thing. It also taught me the importance of giving and helping other people.”
Like the photographer he is, Brian’s keeping his focus.
“In five to ten years, I see myself being able to feed at least half a million people on a daily basis. I have first-hand experience of how hard it is to attend a varsity lecture on an empty stomach. The government offers feeding schemes in primary and high-school level, but not at tertiary. I want to help people reach their full potential.”
Brian says the world would be a better place if people were less selfish.
“Continuously trying to find new ways to improve people’s lives and solve problems keeps me up at night. I think this generation has so much potential, but the problem is that we are a ‘selfie’ generation. Most people are more concerned about themselves and trying to be successful; there is a lack of caring for the poor.
“There is a saying that goes, ‘If you want to be successful as much as you want to breathe, only then will you be successful’. I believe something more powerful than us exists… and that life is what you make of it. I think if one has worked hard to attain all you have, it becomes very difficult for pride to take over. Don’t stop looking for opportunities to grow, start where you are and write your goals down and meditate on them. Be disciplined and go after what you want,”
Brian is also a rapper, look out for his mixtape titled “Money vs Time” dropping later 2017.