Few people raised in a Western culture understand what a poverty mindset is, or realise that many communities worldwide still live with this thinking. We see the effects – unemployment, crowded living, squalor and litter, violence and societal ills, hopelessness mixed together with a sense of entitlement – and want to help, but often the situation just seems to get worse when we do.
People with a poverty mindset mostly do nothing, think they have nothing, and wait for other people to help them through life. The grants and charity that poor people rely on, are normally just enough to keep them alive, but do very little to help them out of multi-generational poverty.
Adopting a healthy worldview
WORK 4 A LIVING’s founder, Ena Richards, shares her experience with the poverty mindset: “When we first started out, we trained people with good work ethic and skills and found them jobs. We thought this would be enough, but we failed miserably. People quit their jobs, stole from their employers and worked without excellence. We then learnt about the worldview concept from Disciple Nations Alliance (disciplenations.org) and we realised that our students had a poverty mindset. We found that sustainable change and empowerment only comes when we teach them a Biblical worldview – they learn that God has given them everything they need to succeed in life, that it is good to work, and that they have a responsibility to care for their family and community through working.”
“Poverty thinking is pervasive. We would find two communities, divided by as little as a single road – in the one community, everyone works and thinks it is good to work and they prosper; but just across the road in the other community, no one works, no one wants to work and people live off grants and crime”, Ena adds.
Every W4AL success story over the past 14 years celebrates people breaking free from the poverty mindset, getting discipled into a Biblical worldview and stepping into the resulting benefits in the real economy.
We especially love Bomikazi’s story, as it already shows how a non-traditional way of thinking can impact generations in a poor, rural community:
“My name is Bomikazi Madikizela. I am 28 years old and grew up in Bizana in rural Transkei, South Africa. My grandmother changed my life story. My mother was still studying when she had me, so my grandmother took on my mom’s role. She taught us to use our hands and minds and to work the land we had. I started farming at the age of six. Everything we had at home was from the garden. We grew mealies, beans, vegetables and amadumbe. Sometimes we would sell our crops to buy other foodstuffs or farming equipment. The amadumbe was very profitable!
My mom was the only graduate amongst five siblings. She inspired me to study hard, so that I could get a bursary to further my studies. A scholarship from the Industrial Development Corporation enabled me to complete a National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry in 2013, followed by a B Tech in Chemistry from Nelson Mandela University in 2015. That same year I was employed by Aspen Pharmacare in Port Elizabeth (PE) as a Junior Laboratory Analyst. In 2018 I was promoted to Senior Laboratory Analyst.
God expanded my story again in 2016, when I discovered WORK 4 A LIVING (W4AL). I bought a two bedroomed flat – as I did not want to rent, and also wanted to help students from back home when they came to PE to study or work. A friend staying with me attended a W4AL course, as she was looking for a job. Every day she came home so motivated, that I became curious and asked for more information. My idea was to start a training centre back home in Bizana. Ena from W4AL recommended that I first attend the course, to see how it is facilitated. Because I was already working full time, I shared the idea with my church in Bizana and got two people to come to PE to attend the course. I arranged to work night shifts for two weeks, so that I would be able to attend the course and also help my friends from home who struggled with English.
W4AL really opened my mind to see that we have all the things we need to improve our lives, that we do not have an excuse to stay poor. Many young people in our country have an entitlement mentality – they expect the government, or the education system, or their parents, to do something to better their lives. I have learnt that if you start believing that no one owes you anything, your mind becomes free and you can achieve success for yourself and your community.
Currently I work full time, mentor for W4AL, and am also studying for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), majoring in Physical Sciences and Mathematics. I hope to finish my studies next year and return to Bizana in 2022. I plan to open a W4AL training centre and also want to teach computer skills and farming. Our people think that because they are poor, they are not fit to do other things – they think maths and science are hard – so they sit and do nothing. My dream is to teach youths and young adults that God has given us all that we need – our communities can flourish in education, farming and business – our success is in our hands and minds, just as my grandmother taught!“
Bomikazi and her family are really just starting to experience economic freedom, but this small group of people has already produced an astonishing number of good stories:
- In 2018, Bomikazi managed to buy a car at an auction, which is generating income through Uber and Bolt. “I am working and the car is working, giving someone else bread; it is a car with a purpose”, she says.
- One of the ladies that attended the W4AL course with Bomikazi opened a pre-school centre in Bizana last year. This has grown to 30 children and the appointment of a second teacher, with the local church’s backing. The owner is studying towards an Early Childhood Development (ECD) qualification and friends from PE have provided resources of toys and study materials.
- The family also established a farm last year, on which they have planted 20 Macadamia trees, with the intention of increasing this to 200 trees over time.
- Bomikazi and her mother attended the Farming God’s Way course (farming-gods-way.org) and are in the process of growing their vegetable business, together with family and friends. They also farm with chickens for eggs and meat, and plan to sell their produce locally.
- With the coronavirus lockdown in March, W4AL’s business training went online and Bomikazi was asked to facilitate a Wired for Business group. The group has already experienced success, with businesses starting and expanding even during the economic lockdown. Their group of 17 people started a savings fund, into which each one pays R100 per week. Each week one member receives a pay out of R1600, that they use to start or grow a business. One member started a catering business and has already employed another person. Another lady, with a background in agriculture, has purchased her first piglets to start a piggery. Eight more members have pooled their pay outs to build up a vegetable farming business.
If this is the legacy of one rural grandmother’s teaching, imagine what can happen to nations when whole communities hear the truth and start breaking the yoke of poverty thinking over Africa!
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
We are always on the look out for partners to get involved with WORK 4 A LIVING, by starting a new centre, facilitating our business course online, or employing our graduates. Please see our Partner and Employ pages for more information.