For the poor children under our care, life generally means that they live with a single mother or grandmother who is unemployed with no dependable means of support. Many survive primarily on their grandmother’s meagre old age pension. They experience hunger frequently, live on a diet of tea and bread without milk and sugar and many are grateful to simply have cabbage soup or a small amount of maize meal at night. The children and their families live in one-room shacks without electricity, heat or a refrigerator. They rely on candles for light at night. Their extreme poverty means that they frequently have insufficient money for school fees and books and have to stay out of school for several weeks until funds can be found to purchase shoes and school uniforms ….. Added to these challenges the impact of HIV and AIDs has severely affected the lives of many children with the result that a number of children live in child-headed households where an older sibling (often not much older than 10 or 12 years of age) has to care not only for themselves but their younger brothers and sisters.
The community caregivers at Angels Care attempt to identify these children and their families and to provide them with assistance in the form of taking them to the clinic when necessary, providing them with additional food and also ensuring that they receive some love and care. Wherever possible we try and find foster mothers for some of the orphans and the following is a touching account from Mrs. Yvonne Ngcube who runs the Pholani foster care group and who personally fosters up to 12 children at any one time. Angels’ Care provides as much food, clothes and help with school fees as possible.
“In 2000 we formed a group called Masisebenzisane Garden Project where we were planting vegetables.
In 2002 the Project was extended by a Poultry Project. The structures were built near the river (meat chicks).
One day it was winter in June, when I was busy feeding the chickens in the morning. I heard someone coughing down the river. It was very cold. I heard this coughing. When I noticed, I saw that there was a way going down to the river. I followed the way, then I saw a small boy sleeping down by the river with cardboards and he was coughing, sleeping with his brother and the brother ran away but the boy didn’t run because he was very young. My aim to follow the way I thought that there are thieves who are stealing our chicks.
When I got the children I became nervous and I was shocked. I was not working at that time and did not know what I was going to give those children, but I took the children to my house and I told them that let’s go home, we are going to the bread. I bathed them and I gave them food (hot). When I was still nursing those children, Angels’ Care lady called Shiela one day came to my house. She was crying and asked to talk to me privately. She told me that they got a child at Shiyabazali who was 9 months old and she was very sick and the mother passed away in hospital. So they begged me to take the child because all the people at Squatter Camp advised her that I’m the only person who can look after the child. All the people neglected the child.
I took the child under my care. Today she is 11 years old.
One day the Social Worker came to my house with 3 children belonging to one family abused by the parents and begged me to stay with them, because they investigated no families.
The others came with the Caregivers from Angels’ Care. Their parents passed away at the Squatter Camp and left under the shelters alone.
Other ones, their mother was killed by her boyfriend and was found by the Police fluttering under the blood. We are now all staying as a family. They are now brothers and sisters staying in one family sharing everything we have.”