Green Renaissance produces gorgeous short films that uplift the personal stories of ordinary people, with the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change. We feel hugely blessed to feature video-stories that filmmakers Michael and Justine capture with exquisite expertise, and which so beautifully illustrate Grateful Living principles and practices. In this short film we hear from Obert Jongwe.

Learn more about Green Renaissance through our Grateful Changemaker feature.*

Questions for Reflection

  • What lessons have you learned from periods of hardship?
  • What opportunity is this moment offering you?

We invite you to share your reflections below the video transcript that follows.

Video Transcript

Whether you are rich or you are poor, we all need each other. We are not created to be alone. We are supposed to have other people around us for things to happen.

It is always beautiful to meet people and talk to them, as a source of inspiration. They just remind me that we are all humans and somehow we are connected. And that’s what makes community so important in our lives. Because they make us to be what we are, and who we are, and who we become.

I wasn’t prepared for this pandemic. And I don’t think anyone was prepared for this pandemic. Nobody. In one day, everything was locked down. The whole world stopped at once. So for me that was a knock out blow. It was all darkness. I didn’t know what the future would hold and I didn’t know what to do.

You think of Prison Break (laughter)…this time there is no prison break because everyone else is in prison. Where are you going to break… and go where? (laughter)

It is almost 2,600km (1615 miles) away from where my home was in Zimbabwe. And I remember the first Sunday, I was listening to the president talking on the news. And there was a promise of some grants for the citizens of South Africa. All the foreign nationals in this country, how are they going to survive?

For me, I had my own savings. But for other people who didn’t have any savings it was definitely going to be something very very difficult.

Life brings hardships to teach you to do something good. I came up with an idea…what if I just paint one small painting and then sell it at a given price and then with that money, I take part of that money and give it maybe to one family. And I posted it on my social media platforms. And fortunately it was sold. So it became soft of like a challenge where everyday I would paint one or two paintings and sell them. And now many families were being fed. And that brought quite a lot of happiness into my life because now I could see people beginning to get some new hope amidst the darkness.

You need to know that you have got a purpose. You are not just born to live. We are all created for a reason. That’s why we are here in this world. We are not here to fill it up. There are so many other things to fill the world…there are stones…and there is water. (laughter)

We always look for resources to help others. But do we realize that we are the best equipment in this world? And we can do so many wonderful things even without money. I could use my gift as an artist to produce for other families in times of hardship.

Gold is never found in clean waters. You have to go through the dirty mud and the hard rocks. Every situation in life comes with its lessons. And it is always very important to open your eyes and look at the situation and find some lessons within it.

Wisdom is the ability to see good in everything, be it bad and be it good. A positive life gives energy. It opens your mind. It refreshes your soul. And it propels you to move forward and it brings happiness. That gives you more health and more life…just to accept that today I have everything I need and be thankful for it.

Life brings good things to teach us also the beauty of the good things so that when they come we embrace them with a lot of care, knowing that at some point we may lose them. And the moment you are good at that you begin to enjoy life and to be happy and to experience love. Because now life can teach you to see good things.

To support Michael and Justine in their film-making journey visit Green Renaissance.


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About the author

Justine and Michael are a creative couple living in South Africa.  Their project, Green Renaissance, works to spread positive stories that reflect the wonder of the world. With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, they produce gorgeous short films that are posted online and available for anyone, anywhere, to watch and share freely.


Through their films, they explore what it means to be human. They touch on topics that can often be difficult for people to discuss – from loss of a loved one to aging and retirement to friendship to love and courage – universal themes that we all deal with at some stage in our lives.


By sharing these stories, Justine and Michael hope to remind us of one simple truth – that we are all human – that inside our hearts and minds, we are all facing similar challenges.  We have so much to learn from each other, and our connections run so much deeper and stronger than we think. Learn more and support their work at greenrenaissance.co.za.