There is no linear path to success. These are the words, and the thought, which often crosses the mind of the most successful people in the world. Where we begin, where we think we're headed, and what actually happens thereafter are not always in line with each other.
But what makes us keep placing one foot in front of the other? What makes us want to keep trying, despite the failures, flaws and difficulties? Why do we persist in our efforts to help others, when we sometimes feel like we're drowning, ourselves?
Today we explore what makes Angels fly...
I'm a pretty simple person, most days, but as with any other human being, there is a more complicated side to me. In applying for recognition by the Obama Foundation, this past week has helped me discover a little more of myself; my determination and grit; my roots and heritage; my drive for a better tomorrow - not just for me, but for those around me.
I see a miracle in every Angel, every day. I love reading WhatsApp messages and going through Facebook threads to see the excitement, the hope, the pure delight at the realisation that good things are happening to them, for them, for the people around them. In all the years this team has grown, we've managed to get something right: a sense of family.
We set out from day one, to eliminate the waiting period for youth to receive opportunity that counted. We have given our time, energy, funds, expertise and the vast amounts of knowledge we have gained along the way, to give to a cause that we know has the potential to lift our nation higher than ever before: youth development.
Saying no to poor choices is great, if our children are following our instructions, but that only works if we're there to give the instructions. True success, and true empowerment is the knowledge and ability to trust that in our absence, our children will think critically and still make the choice of integrity and constructive progress. It is the aim to empower youth with such critical thinking ability, especially in creative fields, that motivates us day in and day out.
Processes are good; structures and queuing systems are great, but I've seen our people suffer for far too long. I furrow my brow at the gogo who wakes up at 3.30am to take two taxis and a bus to go to work as a domestic helper, to feed children and grandchildren who work hard to obtain and education and have no guarantee of a job once they qualify. I cry, sometimes, when I think of the countless innocent lives left to fend for themselves on our streets, where drugs and violence are becoming the norm. I feel so helpless some nights when I scour the headlines and all I can see is evidence that institutional leadership in South Africa has a long long way to go before South Africans truly benefit from their tax rands.
All of this pain, anger, frustration and despair for those people helps me channel the blessings of the Almighty into my ability to do something to change even a single person's life. The greatest rewards since the beginning of this group have simply been the emails, messages, phonecalls, dances, songs and achievements of our Angels who have put their faith in the same vision that I have. When the Angels win, I know I've done something right.
I have never conformed to the expectations of others. In years, past, this would have brought me to my knees and left me feeling worthless, but because of the hope I see, and the genuine love and the spirit of Ubuntu that I live with every day, I know that I don't need to conform in order to change lives for the better. Someone out there needs something I have or can do, and my life will be dedicated to bridging that gap. Working with these Angels has been the greatest honour of my life, thus far, and it's going to take a lifetime of effort for anything to top that.