Aslam Ricketts is a 26 year old Cape Flats ‘laaitie’ that flies planes, and not just any kind of plane. He flies planes to deliver humanitarian aid to war-torn South Sudan. For his contribution to humanity, Aslam was named by the Mail and Guardian as one of its top 200 young South Africans, in the category of Civil Society.
Aslam works for an aviation company that has a contract with the Red Cross to deliver aid such as food and medicine. He says that he had always dreamed of being both a pilot and helping others; and this role allows him to do both.
His drive to be a successful pilot and somebody that helps others can be purely attributed to the values instilled in him by his parents. Although he grew up in a tougher part of the Cape Flats, he is aware that his parents worked hard and made many sacrifices so that he can have a more comfortable life than most in his area. He does them proud by working hard and doing his best. He also says that they inspired him to “help others regardless of race, class or creed”.
Aslam also stresses that it was not easy completing his aviation training because the money wasn’t always there. Despite his financial struggles, he completed his studies and managed to see the world, both good and bad.
Of his work, Aslam says that he ‘feel so happy’ that he is “able to bring much-needed aid, whether it is food or equipment”. “There are so many good people working in these awful conditions, so it feels rewarding to help in some way.”
As for the future, Aslam says that wants to move into politics because he feels that this is where he can do the most good. He also hopes to run for president someday. “With lots more work, lots more studying, I may be able to be a part of the change that needs to happen, not just in South Africa, but the world,” says Aslam. For those that might think he is thinking too far ahead, he says the following: “They do say ‘go big or go home’, so I plan to go big.”
Source(s): Edited from a story on the Mail and Guardian website
Note: Each year, the Mail and Guardians asks the public to nominate the most remarkable young people between the ages of 18 and 35. This year, they received 6000 nominations and out of these, only 200 were chosen. These young people are considered the best of the best and many have gone on to make significant strides in their respective fields.