For Faried Kops of Buffalo Flats, the challenge of bringing a smile to people’s faces is one that runs deep. Commonly known as “Uncle Faried”, he has committed his life to being a beacon of hope to people facing varied plights.
When Faried lost his mother to cancer nine years ago, he asked God to help him overcome his loss, and go out there and help others in many ways.
Shortly after that, he suffered a stroke which left his speech impaired and his face significantly skewed.
“It felt as if it was the end of the world for me. I felt shy to leave the house. I spoke to God and when I got healed, I made a promise to Him that I’d make a difference in people’s lives.”
True to his word, after reading a story about an East London woman who was bedridden with cancer and in dire need, Faried decided to pay her a visit and see how he could put a smile on her face.
“When I asked her what she’d like me to do for her, she said she’d been longing for a piece of biltong for months. I said to her, ‘don’t worry, I will see what I can do for you’.”
What began as a trip to the butchery for biltong quickly escalated to an even bigger cause, and through Faried’s help, the woman and her family – who lived in poverty and were facing homelessness – received a new home, and a new chance at life.
From that moment on, there was no turning back and Faried has spent his days selflessly helping anyone asking him for assistance.
A frontline manager at the Guild Theatre, Kops organises theatre shows to raise funds for the projects close to his heart.
Last year, the Guild held a fundraising event in support of Parkside School after it experienced a bout of vandalism.
Currently, he’s planning shows for the Anglican Church in Pefferville and a young Port Elizabeth woman with cerebral palsy who is in need of a motorised wheelchair.
“With the little I have, I’m able to achieve so much. I’ve learnt that if you have the desire to do something, God brings people into your life to make it happen.”
Faried said every time he takes on a “project”, the universe comes together to fulfil his wishes. He has approached family, friends, and various businessmen around East London who have been instrumental in helping him help others.
Parkside Primary School principal Brian Fritz enthused about Faried’s positive outlook on life. “The school’s morale was very low because of the incidents. Faried came in and gave us a positive outlook. He is a real community builder.”
Faried mentioned his wife, Sumayah, as his biggest inspiration. “Without her strength I am nothing,” he said.
Sumayah loves seeing the outcomes of his projects.
“I allow him to do what he loves most and he loves helping people. It’s always nice to see how people appreciate his efforts.”
An angelic figure in many people’s lives, Faried has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. “ I’m going to keep doing this for as long as God gives me the strength to carry on,” he vowed. — firstname.lastname@example.org