Moses was only a newborn when he was abandoned on the streets of Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Young, unemployed, and unable to provide for him, his mother felt she could not look after him.

Community members managed to track down his grandmother. Still, their living conditions were not great, even though he now had a roof over his head. Like many children in Khayelitsha, poverty, alcohol abuse, and gangsterism were part of his reality.

Moses with Theresa Richardson from Ikhaya Le Themba.

Finding a place of hope

When Moses was four years old, he met Theresa and Ian Richardson. Through their nonprofit organisation, Ikhaya Lethemba, they ran a home-based care programme in the Khayelitsha area.

“Moses and his brother stayed with his grandmother and would hang out on the streets every day. He would watch us as we visited different homes in his community. Eventually, Moses grew curious and started accompanying us on our home base care visits. He was only four years old then,but we managed to build a relationship of love and trust with him,” said Theresa.

The Ikhaya Le Themba team saw the need for safe spaces for children in the community. A place where children like Moses could thrive. They began holding playdate sessions where children could get off the streets and engage in imaginative play and storytelling.

Moses was nine years old and became the first child to be part of the playdate sessions; he never missed a session.

Discovering his love for gardening

Moses often visited Ikhaya Le Themba’s community garden with the Richardsons. These visits developed into an interest in gardening.

Most days after school, he assists gogo Cynthia and her team in keeping the community garden in tip-top shape.

Moses with gogo Cynthia at the Ikhaya Le Themba community garden.

“Having Moses around to assist me is a great blessing. Not only is he a quick learner when it comes to plants and vegetables, but he also helps me with things I can no longer do because of old age. I can’t lift or carry heavy stuff but with Moses around, I have someone I can rely on,” said gogo Cynthia.

He learned all he could from gogo and started using his knowledge to grow and sell seedlings.

“I have learnt so much from gogo and the other ladies who work in this garden. I have really grown to love gardening because I get a sense of peace when I have soil on my hands and I am planting and growing stuff. Even at home, I have my own little garden, which I take good care of,” said Moses.

His seedling business is doing well.

Choosing to make good choices continuously

Nearly 14 years later, Moses is still part of Ikhaya Le Themba. He is currently doing his matric and has dreams to grow his seedling business and go to varsity to study mathematics.

“Moses has had a long journey with Ikhaya Le Themba. He is one of those children who are just so faithful and compassionate. Despite the extremely difficult circumstances that he grew up in, he continues to rise above it all,” Theresa said.

“I hope to make a success of myself, not only for me but for the benefit of my community. I want to give back. I stay in a community where very little good is happening, and I want to be part of the good,” Moses concluded.

Photographs by Tehila Botha (@astoryborn)