How to make dough from bread
Thembile Gcukumeni loved the outdoors. Growing up he knew that one day he’d make nature his workplace. As he got older and his body gained strength, he matured from boy scout to skilled mountaineer and earned an income as an outdoor experiential educator. Then, just when his life was approaching its apex, everything came crashing down. Gcukumeni had a stroke that damaged the left side of his body and impaired his speech.
Physically unable to perform his job any longer, he would have to reinvent himself. But where to start? Baby steps at first: Gcukumeni had to relearn how to walk and talk. The use of his left arm would never return though. Home in Gugulethu, he searched for new job opportunities that he could manage with one arm. Gcukumeni was willing to try anything, but his options were limited until he heard about an institution in the area that was teaching people to bake, free of charge.
Inspired by the chance to learn a new skill, he joined the course and tapped into a talent he’d never known he possessed. Gcukumeni is still in Gugulethu, but he’s no longer unemployed. He has become the beaming smile behind Thembile’s Breadshop, where he produces everything from classic bread loaves to French baguettes from his wood-fired, rocket oven. Gcukumeni’s breads remind his community of his story of triumph over adversity and, though he now spends more time indoors, his life is still full of adventure.