You cannot but notice the sparkle and fighting spirit of three youngsters on the job at the Pretoria Boeremark (Farmer’s Market). They do their job with enthusiasm and energy that is about so much more than simply making money. They’re taking their future in their own hands. DIANE DE BEER spoke to the three youngsters about their hopes and aspirations:
SIBLINGS KARABO AND MAHLATSE APHANE PLAN THEIR LIVES WITH A PURPOSE
Brother and sister Karabo (16) and Mahlatse Aphane (19) are on the march and it’s all about the future.
They have many strings to their bow, one being their work at the Bread Gypsy at the Pretoria Boeremark where their embracing smiles enthuse customers as much as the high quality artisanal breads. And then they go for the full monty, when the two Ndebele and Sotho speaking kids respond to the customers in Afrikaans.
Their mother, a remarkable woman, wanted them to be in Afrikaans schools. She is also a linguist and the children rattle through the seven languages they speak, two they can understand and another in the process of learning. “It’s not easy,” says Karbabo but both are fully aware of all the benefits.
That has been a strong determinator of much of what they do. He first started at the Boeremark collecting and pushing trolleys to make pocket money. Then another stall owner employed some of the young boys to help with his plants and compost. “It was tough though, because he picked us on a first-come-first employed basis.”
Once he was spotted by the management of the very popular Bread Gypsy it was all systems go and now the two Aphane siblings are fully integrated into the system. “I was very shy in the beginning but Karabo helped me to overcome that,” says Mahlatse.
But what happens the rest of the week is also a big part of their inspirational story. From a young age, these two siblings understood that sport – any sport – would add to their life. They tried everything and finally, Karabo settled on athletics and rugby, while Mahlatse has decided to concentrate on rugby, winning a rugby scholarship to study Sport Management at the University of Pretoria this year.
Karabo, who is through to grade 12 is at the ZAYO Sport Academy on a bursary where he plays rugby (scrumhalf or fullback) and athletics (400 and 800 m).
Their days usually start with a run and their mom (whose job is a physical one) accompanies them for the exercise. But then they also participate in hectic training programmes for their rugby (and athletic) endeavours – some part of their programmes but others undertaken to improve their performances. They’re also starting to involve a younger sibling in their activities.
They both belong to a gym and while they can’t afford personal trainers (their market pocket money doesn’t quite stretch that far!), google and Youtube has been employed when they need advice.
Even at their young age, their’s is a life with purpose. As single parent children, they want to help their hardworking mom where they can, don’t want to add to her already heavy burden but they also have an eye on the future.
The academic year had just begun when I spoke to them, and Mahlatse was discovering the leap from school to university is challenging. And yet she is determined to find her way – both with the learning and the rugby. She knows both in the classroom and on the field she has catching up to do but these youngsters know how to keep pushing ahead.
When either sibling is despondent, the other steps in determinedly. That’s what they love most about rugby. “It’s like a family, it’s a team sport,” they both agree.
Personally I can’t wait to see how these Aphane siblings just keep pushing ahead and achieving. Things haven’t been gifted to them, even though their grit and determination have been spotted and rewarded especially by the Gypsy Bread team, but they know they simply have to work hard and dream even bigger.
So far they have reaped the rewards – joyously for those of us watching.
Catching up with the two sport fanatics once the Boeremark had re-opened post the stricter lockdown times, Mahlatsi was much more comfortable with her studies and had also joined the Blue Bulls for training. Her dreams don’t have any horisons, while Karabo is focussed on next year’s Danie Craven week.
With their determination and staying power, their stories are just beginning, so watch this space, I’ll try to keep up.
AUDREY MLLIGAN IS NO SLOUCH WHEN MARKETING AUDREY’S COOKIES
It’s tough not to notice Audrey Milligan of Audrey’s Cookies at the Pretoria Boeremark. It’s not that she accosts you, but she makes sure you try or at least take notice of her wares. “If you want to sell something, you want to tell people,” she says.
The fact that she started when she was just 11 years old hasn’t done anything to dampen her strong exuberant entrepreneurial spirit. A visiting American currently in Pretoria with her missionary parents, she had already started a lemonade stand back home as a youngster.
She began baking with her grandmother and it was her recipes that inspired the young lass although she has added to her repertoire from different family heirlooms. And as someone who chats to her customers and invites passers-by to try some of her sweet biscuits, she keeps her eye on the cookie trend and the like and dislikes of what she sells.
For someone this young that she is even aware of products like real vanilla extract is endearing and points to a prosperous food future, but Audrey isn’t thinking that far ahead. So far the money she makes from her cookie craft has taken her and her Dad to New Zealand where she visited a friend she met in South Africa who emigrated there and she has many more dreams for the future, like a computer to keep in touch with online friends – as she never stops baking.
The family is involved to help this young baker whose cookies include the much loved choc chop, an oats cookie and something I had never heard of, a snickerdoodle – but as I discovered, it was my absence of cookie knowledge rather than it being quite obscure. Either way, once you’ve tasted any of Audrey’s cookies, you will be addicted. I have watched those with a sweet tooth around me, it’s a stall that always makes them linger.
Her stall also packs a double knockout shot. There’s the cookies, but there’s also Audrey and because their stall has changed into something of a family business, each one with their own passion, one assumes at the start, that the young Audrey is simply a fun sales ploy – until you dig deeper and discover that there’s much more to this youngster with the enchanting smile and endearing sales talk.
She has her eye on the future, is traveling back to the US one of these days with hopes of returning, and has future dreams of studying to become an orthodontist. “I want to help people live healthier lives,” she says.
For now her online schooling and baking keep her busy, in fact her business has blossomed and her Mom has to help with the baking. She has sold more than 10 000 cookies and apart from her Boeremark endeavour, she also delivers to few outlets across Pretoria.
Having talked and written about Audrey, but not yet published the post, lockdown happened, and I put the story on hold. In the meantime the Boeremark is up and running again with strict lockdown adherence and I caught up with Audrey:
“During lockdown I spent time with my family. It was hard at first to not be at the market, but after a year and a half of waking up every Saturday at 3:00am it was also nice to sleep in for a few weeks. Also during lockdown, friends of ours opened a coffee shop called Wild Cactus Café in Garsfontein, and they asked if I could supply them with cookies to sell. I said, “Yes, of course!” Sales have been going well there and it’s nice to tell people where they can buy my cookies during the week.
“Just before we were locked down I thought about expanding my range of cookies and ultimately decided to come up with my own new cookie. It’s a chocolate version of my classic Snickerdoodle cookie that I call a Chocodoodle. I baked a bunch and was all set to debut them, but that was the first week the market was closed.
“Since we’ve been back to the market my Chocodoodles almost always sell out. They’re delicious. We were planning to visit America for a month in April/May this year but with the lockdown all of those plans changed. Looking at the numbers in different parts of the world, we’re happy to be in South Africa and feel safe here because people seem to care about being careful.”
So get to Audrey’s Cookies stall when you can, to catch both the sweetness in the young teen as well as in her wares!