I walk outside in to the courtyard and find Gladys Mhlekwa washing the restaurant chairs.I take a chair and tell her that I would like to know more about her. Gladys giggles an infectious giggle of a young girl and starts telling me about herself.“I used to work at the KFC in Fish Hoek and then for a long time I had nothing. Three years ago I came to the Foodbarn.”
This single, 46 year old mom was forced to leave an alcoholic husband and make her own way with three children.“I never managed to finish grade 12 but here I am and now I support my family. I tell my girls that they should be independent and not rely on a man. I tell them that babies should not come when you are too young. First you need an education. I worry about pregnancy and diseases and try to teach them that school is more important”
Anyone who comes across Gladys, comes across a woman that never rests, she works like a Trojan and always manages to find something to do. Mostly, she is in the tiny laundry room, ironing and washing our linen. Gladys sometimes gets annoyed when the linen is not treated with respect!
“I love working, it makes me happy”. This is obvious because Gladys always seems so happy. “I cannot remember a time when I was not a happy person, it’s my personality, I have a good attitude”
What do you enjoy most about working at the Foodbarn?
“I have learned a lot, we are like a family. My bosses are good to me and they speak to me in a kind manner”
What do you do for fun?
“I love to read. I read everything from the newspaper, magazines, and books. I also love Gospel music”.
What do you do when you are not working?
“I go to church. I am part of a parenting project in Masiphumelele. We try to encourage people that have no hope. Sometimes, people who drink don’t see another way. We visit these people and try to encourage them to see things differently. If I have something to give, I give them old clothing. “
You lost your family within a short period of time
“Yes, I lost my mom, my dad, my brother and the father of my children within 5 years. Now I look after myself”.
Gladys has a fiancé, so who knows, maybe another wedding is on the cards.
What message would you like to put out there?
“You have one life, enjoy it even when it is difficult, and don’t punish yourself”
A beautiful, humble woman that we are proud to have working with us. You are not likely to bump in to “Glady” at the Restaurant since most of her time is spent in her “laundry “but we are more than happy for her to come out and say “hi” to you and spread some of her love.