Community Comes Through for Coffee-on-Wheels
2017 ended on a somber note for Patrick Khoza (58) and his cousin George Matukane (70) – familiar faces to anyone who’s entered Kruger National Park through Phabeni Gate on an early morning. The enterprising duo had been running a coffee stall for a few years, serving instant cappuccinos, coffee, tea and hot chocolate to the queues of cars waiting to enter the Park, and it was always a welcoming sight for visitors to see their friendly faces first thing in the morning.
Unfortunately, a devastating hailstorm destroyed Patrick’s entrepreneurial endeavour on 31st December 2017 when the storm struck not only his business, but his home as well. Fortunately for Patrick and George, a good Samaritan took their plight to heart, and called on the community to come together. Lize Bester was there on the day that Patrick Khoza’s livelihood washed away…
“His coffee is made with so much love and care, and we left him in the early morning with a light heart. I thought to myself, ‘What a delightful gentleman’. Late afternoon, we returned and found utter devastation at Phabeni Gate. It was horrific to see that this dear old Madala lost everything in a fierce and widespread hail storm. It ripped apart everything and what stood upright was drowned in a flood of storm water. He lost his business, his little house…everything, except his faith. Patrick said to me, ‘Thankfully my God will always provide’. That coming from someone who just has lost everything and had no place to sleep that night – it humbled me.”
How coffee brings people together
Patrick started his coffee business to put food on the table for his family, and he’s inspired many who drive past to stop and support his entrepreneurial spirit by enjoying a hot beverage (served with a smile) in the comfort of their car. He started small and worked hard to make a success of his small business, and this inspired Lize. She promised Patrick she would help him to get back on his feet again.
Lize took to Facebook to share Patrick’s story and started a PayPal account for people to contribute towards building materials to rebuild the house that Patrick and George had shared and resurrect their coffee station. Soon enough, the donations were trickling in, from a water tank, to coffee cups and lids, tea, coffee, sugar, teaspoons, and even clothing.
According to Lize: “He said he is blessed beyond his imagination. They are super thankful for all the love and care they've received and they can't get their heads around it that we are going out of our way to help them. George asked me to thank all the angels who made donations. He can't thank you enough. As Patrick said, it's like a tree that grows in the ground; the one can't be anything without the other.”
Bronley-Robyn Gover was one of the first people to answer Lize’s call for help. Her company, The Silver Flair, sponsored a new coffee station on wheels for Patrick and George, custom manufactured for them, which can be rolled up and down the line of cars queuing at Phabeni Gate. Patrick and George were overwhelmed with excitement thanks to their brand new mobile coffee station, complete with a bright blue umbrella and beautiful wooden containers for their tea, coffee and sugar.
Supporting the Kruger barista
Lize Bester believes that Patrick is part of the magic at Phabeni Gate, “showing the world what an awesome place South Africa actually is and can be”. Does Patrick even know how far his influence has spread, and just how many lives he has impacted with his work? We received this email recently reinforcing how much value the community places in Patrick and George’s venture:
“We drove from Hazyview through to Phabeni Gate, and lo and behold on arrival there was this wonderful coffee entrepreneur with his mobile coffee station ready to provide us with our early morning coffee fix, together with his proud enthusiastic huge welcoming smile! He was so proud to serve us Nescafé and brown sugar sachets and long-life milk! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see someone coming forward to offer to take his offering to the next level by upskilling him to become a barista, by providing him with the training and the appropriate mobile equipment?” – Simon & June Holland
If you’re inspired by Patrick’s life’s work, and want to make a difference, email Lize Bester on firstname.lastname@example.org or make a donation on PayPal using the same email. And remember, if you’re travelling to Kruger National Park, be sure to stop and buy a coffee at Phabeni Gate. Patrick and George’s positivity and service with a smile is bound to brighten your day.
© Thank you to Lize Bester for the photos!