As part of the TWD campaign, Grant Edmond decided to trade places for a day with his gardener, Hamilton, by serving him at his home in Langa. Here, he shares his experience of the day.
I was planning on doing my TWD challenge on Human Rights Day but had to re-schedule as Hamilton was working on that day. So on Sunday, 7 April 2013, I went to Hamilton’s place in Langa to complete my TWD challenge. It was incredible. I had no idea what to expect. Would his ‘place’ be a shack, a flat, a house? Would there be electricity, running water, or a stove? Would it be safe!? It turns out he lives in the garden of a woman’s sub-divided property, where she allows people to build a place on her land for rent.
Hamilton’s place has wooden flooring and his walls and roof are made from corrugated iron. He was given this place by its previous owner. There is a cable carrying electricity that goes from the property owner’s house to his. He pays R100pm for the electricity (which powers a single light bulb and one plug point) but is not allowed to plug in a two-plate stove or other specified appliances, as they use too much power. He also pays R250pm as rent for the space of land where his home was built. This is quite a hefty fixed expense for a gardener to bear.
The actual challenge was a mind-blowing experience. I cooked, cleaned and gardened for Hamilton, and he instructed me as to what he wanted done. Unsurprisingly, tasks that would take Hamilton 15 minutes seemed to take me hours – frustrating for me but providing immense entertainment for him! One of the major things that I noticed was the amount of convenience items we have that are actually higher on the list of ‘wealth items’ than one would expect. We may realise that we are blessed because we have electronic goods, such as cell phones and radios, but we forget other basic essential items like storage containers.
Hamilton’s place, consisting in essence of only one room, meant that there was no real space to sit or stand as everything had to be placed on the floor. I bought some containers from the nearby Pick n Pay which allowed him to store his food, clothes, tools and toiletries in a space-effective way. Although Hamilton was grateful for the actual work I was doing, he seemed much more content with the simple fact that I had come to visit him at his home in Langa. He loves speaking English and we chatted for hours while I worked. Hamilton’s favourite topic, which took up most of the conversation, was the different types of economic systems – an interesting choice of conversation that lead me to question which one of us should be at UCT!
This experience was definitely one of the most enriching things I have done. My preconceptions were challenged, my tentativeness was overcome and I was able to bond with a legend. A legend that understands God’s sovereignty and His grace far deeper than I, and who so freely demonstrates Godly wisdom in His speech. I also feel that God has freshly challenged me as to what I really need and as to what is a mere collection of ‘stuff’. If we were to be blessed materially according to our character, I know for certain that Hamilton and my position in life would be completely reversed.
“Since I was blessed with this house, it has been a conduit for continued blessing. But that is how life works – we are blessed so that we may go out and bless others and that is what God wants me to do,” Hamilton said at the end of day. I hope that going forward I can cement this experience in my heart and live a life that is truly driven by God’s Word. A life where I not only believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but actually practice this truth daily. A life where I am always concerned for those who God is concerned for – the ‘least of us’ who actually in His Kingdom will be put first.
Jesus thank you for this blood-bought opportunity for me to learn more of your amazing Gospel and thank you Hamilton for playing a huge role in teaching me this.
– Grant’s challenge is still open for donations! Click here if you’d like to support him with a financial donation. All funds will go towards Common Good’s education and employment initiatives.