Pictured above: George has sold ice cream on the beach for 43 years
George Phontshe Peni (71) from Khayelitsha, Cape Town, has made an honest living selling ice creams, whilst capturing the hearts of Bloubergstrand residents and beachgoers for more than 4 decades.
‘Uncle George’, who is an icon in the community, is affectionately known for his kind-loving nature, warm heart, and patience. Come rain or shine, he can often be seen peddling his bike to support his family.
Demonstrating random acts of kindness, George is known for giving out free ice creams to children who are short of change for a treat.
“Uncle George about a month ago gave my grandson- aged 2-ice cream for free, as I did not have money on me and he said a child should not go without ice cream. I could not believe the kindness and warmth of this man. Later on, we paid him back, however, his gesture had no price”, said one Instagram user.
As George is getting older, business has become a bit slower than it was in his golden years.
Due to financial struggles, George sometimes misses an opportunity to sell his ice cream on days when he can’t afford the travelling costs to and from his home.
He also lacks the strength to ride his bike, and rather pushes it alongside Babalwa, a family friend determined to help keep George’s small business and dream alive.
A sweet friendship
Having lived in Blouberg for over a decade, Michelle Nel (32), formed a special friendship with George, despite their different backgrounds, age gap, and a language barrier.
“When you see an older person almost every other day working with the commitment and contentment of George, you cannot help but take an interest in their story. The more I saw George, I couldn’t help but envy his equanimity in the simplicity of his lifestyle. It’s like he figured it out, you know.” – says Michelle
Hearing his stories, she eagerly took notes, hoping for the opportunity to one day share his story with the world. But sadly, as it often happens, life and work took over, and the loosely translated tales of his life were misplaced.
Crowdfunding on BackaBuddy
A few years later, the unexpected happened: In need of taxi fair to get home one day, George showed up on Michelle’s doorstep out of the blue, with no knowledge of where she stayed.
Feeling a sense of divine intervention, and listening to her inner voice urging her to take on a cause greater than herself, Michelle knew it was the right time to tell George’s story and see if her community would help George get back on his feet.
With a suggestion from her husband, Regardt Nel (38), Michelle decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy with a fundraising target of R50 000, hoping to surprise George with a pension fund to support him and his family in the long term.
Watch George’s campaign video
Reaching out to neighbours, and posting on community groups, Michelle was blown away when the campaign soon reached over R70 000, with the support of 193 donors, each sharing heartwarming interactions with George over the last 43 years.
“My kids are 18 & 20 now, in their toddler years they’d run after George with great excitement & he’d always patiently wait while they made their ice cream choices. More than happy to contribute.” – Lorna
“My little Elli who’s 11 now got many free ice-creams as a baby when our nanny used to sit & chat to him at the beach – I’ll definitely support him thanks” – Lou
“Grandson was rewarded with a free ice cream for helping George lift his bike up the ramp at Kleinbaai thanks, good idea.” – Estelle
‘The spirit of Ubuntu is alive’
Having helped set up a banking account for George, Michelle’s hope is that he will have an easier life, and have the means to fix his home and buy furniture.
“Thank you to the Blouberg community, for all you have done to echo the impact George has had to you. While he didn’t ask for us to do this for him, I know, by seeing his face as he reads through your donation comments that he is grateful beyond words. The commitment and love you have shown, proves that together we can make a genuine change in people’s lives.” – says Michelle
Support George by donating on BackaBuddy:
Alternatively, donate on Snapscan:
Thank you to the 193 incredible donors who supported uncle George thus far
Michael Zastron | Gaynor Rusford | Merwe Erasmus | Kim Fortuin | Miss dawes | Ida Pretorius | Sacks Lona | Michelle Rossouw | Claire Celliers | Robert Brent | Ross Jean | Nicholas Wulfse | Danielle Van Staden | Elke Kiehm | Nicolette Copeman | Helena Hutton | Jo-Ann Joffe | Bianca Seery | Xavier Dabrowski | K Fortuin | Vaughan Parvess | J Kervarrec | Samantha Schmidt | Wayne De Nobrega | Lynn Swanepoel | Trevor Venter | Sylvia Althof | Anne-Marie Learmonth | Ayesha Adams | Sonia Fattah | Rowan Whelan | Gabi Weck | Vicki Oosthuizen | Joanne Brits | Samantha Smit | Lauren Grornewald | Koba Molenaar | Luca Graziani | John Nicolson | Bridgette Daries Anon | Gaary Andrew | Ilze Raubenheimer | Dirk Tolken | Kerry Gordon | Amelia Hayes | Northing Vanessa | Karen Lambert | Kendal Warren | Liezel Maree | Sharon Stockdale | Michelle Els | Hilton and Lou Roos | Elizabeth Botha | Susan A | Barbara Moscicki | Sesona Matiso | Peter Leon Goosen | Joan Beattie | HC Easom | Busisa Ellen Dyosi | Amanda Biddle | Mario John Van Der Merwe | Jonathan Towers | Kim Germishuys | C L BILL | H A Edelkraut | Astrid Cadle | Laurie Ben yair | Lili Potgieter | N M Van der Walt | Annie Kok | Janine De Ponte | Ruth Paulus | Liezel Van Wyk | Renette GERBER POTGIETER | SHANE LAWRENCE | Celeste Moos | Tharien Potgieter | Anke Smuts | Chantal Muller | Lc Redding | CAM Williams | Jonathan Stokell | Marcelle Barry | Ranulf Lucas | Chantel Scholtz | Avril April | Cedric Franz | Yvette Rowland | Adeline Swanson | Ilona Du Plessis | Giuliana Cockcroft | Gerhard de Beer | Iris Taani | Lisa Nicholls | Lee John Serafin | N Abader | Willem de Lange | Anne Mann | Bryan Botha | Emma Neisius | Rachelle Seymore-Mackay | Lynette Alexander | Jennifer Graham | Brenda Barber | MARK VIRTUAL | Michele Viljoen | Pumza Bara | Elsie Pool | Vega Hall-Martin | YW Carr Alchemy Services | Carmen MC Gregor | Xandrie Cockrell | Elma Jooste | Jade Duncan | Nicole dos Santos | NV Munsamy | Laanie Allan | Loren Shapiro | Nuraan Ramos | michelle terblanche | Denise Drew | Melanie Hertz | Teresa Lavagnino | Andrea Bodill | Brendon Wilson | Wendy Vadivellu | Benay Mermer | Dhansukh Gajjar | Mecarla Lewis | Blia Yang | Chantelle Arpesella | lauren purdon | Tracy Sterley | Carolien Saayman | Stephane Favre | Don Bekker | Jean Droste | Chantelle Hall | Stephanie H | Grant Watson | Miss Mika Enslin | Leila Coetzee | Kenita Rabilal | Craig Melnick | Paul Reyburn | Adeela Rahbeeni | KR Meijer | Roche Denholm | Stacey Wolpert | Pilisa Matyholo | Tracey Belelie | Elsa M Taylor | Lauren Van Schaik | M Louw | Elina S Iordanova | Sue Wright | El-Maree Van Zweel | Maria Pretorius | Bridgitte Moores-Pitt | Alice Morrison | Lesley Gutsche | Cedric Edwards | N Getley | Claudia Baker | Peter Grainger | Heinrich Robyn | Adriaan Van Niekerk | Liezel Kotze | Collin Soogrim | Doreen Bruss | Lindie Henning | Gwen Robinson