In 2013 we were referred by social welfare to a family in one of the communities we work in. At our initial visit we met 4 beautiful girls (3 sisters and a cousin). Their parents had died and they were living with their gogo (grandma). The gogo has tried her best to provide for the children, but as she too is poor was unable to. The family had been on our mealie meal food ration program since late last year.
The children had only a few clothes in their possession, many of these with holes. One of the girls went to school with no shoes and they had only parts of their school uniform. They ate a very basic diet with minimal nutritional content. The littlest child was diagnosed as malnourished.
The gogo would regularly plead for social welfare to find alternative care for the children as she found it too difficult to care for them. We looked at the option of caring for the children at the gogo’s homestead but she still found this option too great and a huge burden to her.
Operation Hope and social welfare tried all the orphanages in Swaziland to see if they could help. We also searched for distant relatives, but were unsuccessful on both accounts. After many meetings with social welfare, the family and some community members, our project manager Nomsa surprised us by generously offering to take all 4 children in herself. This was on the condition that OH would raise some support to care for their needs.
All the required legal paperwork was completed and as of March 2014 Operation Hope and Nomsa are now the carers of these beautiful girls.
So let’s introduce them to you…
The eldest is Temalangeni. She is 13, tall, quite shy and in Grade 4. She was the main carer for the children, often taking the place of their mum. Her nickname is ‘Millie’ (mealie) because she is tall like a corn stalk. Millie now has the opportunity to be a child and declared last month with a huge smile ‘I’m playing’ while coming down a slide, yep a brand new experience for her. She has been seen skipping home from school with her brand new school friends.
Next is Phetsile (pronounced ‘pet-see-lay’). She is 7, quiet and shy but has a big smile that melts your heart. She is in Grade 1. She was very proud to show me her new schoolwork. She was not impressed with our Weetbix for breakfast when she stayed with us, much preferring sour porridge.
Nonhle (pronounced ‘non-shlay’) is also 7 and is the girls’ cousin. She has the best and loudest laugh. She finds lots of things to laugh at, even when they are not that funny! She is in Grade 2. She enjoyed her first taste of pizza and loves school.
Temaswati is our baby. She is 3 and the cheekiest of them all. She is tiny and so we’ve aptly nicknamed her ‘Pip’ (as in pip squeak). Pip was diagnosed as quite malnourished but has been on plumpy nut (a peanut based nutritional treatment for severe malnutrition) for a 2 weeks now and has put on 1 kg. She is the talker in the family and always has something to say.
The 3 older children are now attending a new school and are loving it. Pip is so excited and cannot wait to start kindergarten at the nearby carepoint next term.
Their lives have truly changed! They now play with other children in and around their new homestead, they use pit latrines instead of the bush and they’ve learnt how to wash themselves properly. They’ve had full medical checks, own new clothes and are now eating nutritional food. In the last month they have become healthy, happy and most importantly poverty free!
Their gogo is so grateful. We met her on our travels and showed her photos of the children’s progress. She is happy that her grandchildren are being looked after properly.
We would love to find willing partners to help Operation Hope and Nomsa to continue to bring health, education and care to these 4 beautiful girls.
Around AU $45 a month per child provides them with food, education, healthcare, clothing… even haircuts! We can keep you up to date with their progress on a regular basis and maybe one day (if you like) you could visit them!