By: Cindy Van Zyl
Published: Monday, 9th May 2016
This is a story of someone who has become much more than just an excellent handy man and gardener. We call him Boetie Lebo and he is the heart of the outdoor environment at Beudene. He is kind, loving and always up for fun and games. This man has grown into a vital part of our team. Many of the learners who buzz around him as he completes his work are part of our VODACOM CHANGE THE WORLD project at Beudene. He willingly teaches them valuable life skills while encouraging them to keep their minds and bodies active.
I asked Beulah, Founder of Beudene, how Boetie Lebo came to work here? She said that he had worked with her mother in law since he was sixteen as a paver in a paving business. His excellent work placed him into considered for a promotion when tragedy changed his life, Boetie Lebo was a victim in a Mini bus accident. He obtained a very serious head injury and was in a coma for three months. He then had to receive a further 18 months of medical rehabilitation. After all this time in recovery he had still not fully recovered, having problems with his hearing, balance, back and most of his physical abilities including muscle strength. Due to this he could no longer work in the paving industry and he started doing piece jobs as a gardener. Beulah was in need of a gardener and so her mother in law sent Boetie Lebo to her. He coincidentally knew the plot very well, as the pavers used to live there while doing contract work in the area.
Beulah says that Boetie Lebo won the love of the learners from the moment he started working there, the love was mutual. She says that he has never lost patience with the disabled learners and always tries to include and accommodate them. He knows who enjoys whic tasks and what each learner is capable of and he allows them to do those jobs. The fact that the older learners love working with the machinery and being outdoors ensures that Boetie Lebo has a consistent group of workers. The learners get an opportunity to work with him in the vegetable garden too where he is able to teach them about sustainable food cultivation.
I went and asked the disabled learners who willingly flock to Boetie Lebo: “Who is Boetie Lebo?” “What does he do there at Beudene?” and ”Why do you like him?” To the best of their ability they answered:“ The Gardener.” “He works here.” “We help him.” “He is a friend.” Little do they realise that he does so much more for them than meets the eye.
When I had a moment to chat to Boetie Lebo, he was just sitting down to some lunch and was reading what looked like a children’s bible. I said to him that I would love to get to the heart behind this gardener who invites the children into his life without expecting any acknowledgement from them, their parents or anyone at all, he agreed with a humble giggle. He told me that he has always kept the words of the Lord in his heart: “Let the children come.” He said that he has tried to help children throughout his life, regularly working with the Christian Revival Church to go and give food and clothing to the children in the townships. According to Boetie Lebo, playing games with the children and laughing together with them is what he loves most about being around them.
Boetie Lebo says: “I love the children and give a lot of love to them. My heart is able to see the love of the Lord, even when they fight with me. They don’t bother me. I cry with the children, I pray with the children. The love that they give is my blanket and the love I give back is their blanket.”