This man went from begging for bread to building a business


Over a decade of living on the streets had left Niklaas Thomas skittish. Nights were the worst – he’d seek safety sleeping outside police stations and hospitals. Days were spent begging for bread. With nothing to look forward to and few fond memories upon which to reflect, Thomas’ existence was the sum of each moment. Until a single coin changed his life.

He was standing near a garage in Worcester when someone stopped to give him R5. Thomas hadn’t eaten in four days, but something inside him burned stronger than his hunger – the will to do something more with his life. This money could feed him for a night, but he’d be back at square one the next day. So he skipped another meal, and purchased a small tin of polish from the garage shop. Thomas started cleaning the shoes of passersby for change, before realising that he might earn more polishing the wheels of the cars coming past to fill up with fuel.

The first person he approached insisted he wash his entire car, not just the tyres, and when Thomas was done the man gave him R1 000, telling him that he could make something of himself through this. He’s been washing cars ever since and is now the proud owner of a small business that has brought dignity and direction to his life. After begging on the streets for years, Thomas is married and has a home, all because he skipped one more meal to dream a little longer.