How a guy known as 'Pavement Bookworm' sold his knowledge to turn his life around

When Philani Dladla found himself homeless on the streets of Johannesburg, he wanted to do more than just ask strangers for money to get back on his feet.

He wanted to try something different.


Image via CCTV Africa.

Dladla decided to see if he could sell his knowledge instead.

"I thought I could be different and actually give people something worthwhile — like a book or book review — in exchange for money," he writes on his website.

He knew he had plenty of them to give. He'd loved reading since he was young, and was once left with almost 500 books when a family friend passed away. In a bind and on the streets years later, he went for it.

Image via CCTV Africa.

Dladla began selling books and book reviews to the people he encountered day to day. He soon became known as "The Pavement Bookworm" around the streets of Johannesburg. Today, he's considered a worldwide inspiration.

Selling book reviews turned out to be more than a unique approach. It helped Dladla lift himself out of poverty and drug addiction.

"While selling books I realised how much money I was wasting on getting my next fix," he said. "With some self-motivation and a lot of self-help books, I made the decision to stop taking drugs."

That's some serious motivation. Bravo!

Image via Tebogo Malope.

He was able to get back on his feet, and now he's making sure that others stay on theirs — especially underprivileged kids.

"I started using the extra income from selling books to give free books to underprivileged children," he said. "In doing that, I started the Book Reader's Club for the kids in Joubert Park."

He formed his own book club, you guys! The Pavement Bookworm is on a roll.

"I want to be able to help young kids reach tertiary education without having to worry about finding the money. Too many kids lose their way after high school — many of them turn to drugs, alcohol and crime. I want to change that."

By the sound of it, he is helping to change that. The next chapter of his life is off to a very positive start.

The Pavement Bookworm sure knows a lot of stories, but I think the most inspiring one of all is his own.

Strangers gave him a chance, and he delivered and saved himself. It shows the power of reading, the power of learning, and the power of believing in yourself and in others.

Hear more about it and share the happy vibes in this great CCTV Africa feature:

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

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"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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