‘I have to help – it’s only fair’

CityPress - - News -

His 18th birth­day is four months away and he only fin­ishes high school at the end of the year, but Salim* al­ready has three years of part-time work un­der his belt.

Every day after school, Salim helps out at his fam­ily’s stall in Dur­ban’s cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict, fill­ing in for his par­ents, who are both in their six­ties, and whose en­tire in­come is de­rived from their li­censed street ta­ble, where they sell ev­ery­thing from loose cig­a­rettes to toi­letries.

The Manch­ester United fan, who wants to be an en­gi­neer, helps by pack­ing up stock and stor­ing it for the next day’s busi­ness, which starts be­fore 5.30am to catch cus­tomers on their way to work.

“I don’t mind help­ing my par­ents out. This is our busi­ness and I un­der­stand that they can’t em­ploy some­body else to help them,” he says. “There are days when I don’t feel like work­ing, but it’s only a few hours every day. I still have time to do my school­work, so there’s no prob­lem.

“My big broth­ers also worked part time to help my par­ents out in the busi­ness when they were still at school. They have their own fam­i­lies now and have their own jobs. Now it’s my turn to do the same thing. It’s only fair.”

Salim says that, while most of his school­mates don’t have jobs, some do.

“Some of the guys help out in fam­ily shops or busi­nesses. Oth­ers have part-time jobs,” he says.

His fa­ther, Iqbal, has been a hawker for most of his adult life.

“I come from a fam­ily where we were all in­volved in the busi­ness from a young age. You help your par­ents out. You make your bed, clean up after your­self and help with dishes. There’s no such thing as a maid – you do things your­self,” says Iqbal.

“Now my kids have done the same. We can’t af­ford to pay an out­sider to work for us. There’s not a lot of profit here, so what­ever we can save helps a lot. What he is do­ing is a big con­tri­bu­tion to the fam­ily.” * Not his real name

– Paddy Harper

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