Tears of Gratitude & Hope: A Story from the Field

DSCN0944 Tears roll down the cheeks of forty nine year old Spindile when she talks about the difference Thandanani has made in her family’s life.

As she wipes her tears away she explains that in late 2013 her eldest daughter passed away leaving her three children; Mfanufikile (12), Siphokuhle (8) and Ibrahim (2); in her and her youngest daughter’s care. Nolwazi (26); her youngest daughter, is also caring for her own child – six year old Amanhle.

At the time, the family were struggling to survive off the four Child Support Grants they were receiving and a little income that Nolwazi was managing to earn through odd, part-time jobs. They were sleeping on the floor with very little in the way of blankets, clothes and food. She says the children often went to bed hungry as the family simply did not have enough food. Stress, and the burden of care, had also taken their toll on Spindile’s health. She was very ill when Thandanani first met the family and young Ibrahim, who is on chronic medication, was also struggling.

DSCN0953When Thandanani became aware of these circumstances we provided the family with immediate assistance in the form of emergency food relief and some much needed basic household equipment – including mattresses and bedding. The children were also given new school uniforms enabling them to attend school without the risk of shame, ridicule and ostracisation. At the same time, Thandanani’s Lay Counsellors visited the family to assess their health and provide health education and treatment support.

Since then Thandanani’s Social Workers have visited the family and have prepared and submitted Foster Care Grant applications to formally place the three orphaned grandchildren in Spindile’s care. With these grants having now been approved, the family’s per capita income has increased from R270 per person per month when we first made contact to R568 per person per month currently. As a result, there is no need for any further emergency assistance from Thandanani as our Fieldworker is working with the family to guide them in the use of these grants to meet their own basic needs.

DSCN0880In addition, Thandanani’s Food Garden Development staff have assisted the family to develop their food garden by providing tools, fencing, seeds and practical advice and support. Spindile has also joined one of the Self-Help Groups established by Thandanani in the local area. This has enabled Spindile to begin saving some of the families’ income each month and provided her with access to low interest loans for emergencies or for longer-term projects like improving her house or even starting a small income generating project of her own.

Thandanani’s Family Strengthening Fieldworker, who visits the family on a regular basis, has also assisted them to put together a Memory Box. This was a very intimate process for the family who were able to share memories and stories in honouring their lost daughter, mother and sister. In addition, Spindile joined one of Thandanani’s Caregiver Support Groups while Mfanufikile participated in one of Thandanani’s Life-skill groups and Siphokuhle participated in one of Thandanani’s Children’s Support Groups. These groups provided them with a safe and supportive environment in which process their experiences and enhance their resilience and emotional well-being.

Spindlie says she can’t imagine what she would have done if it weren’t for Thandanani’s support and guidance. Although things are still tough, the children’s future is a lot brighter as she is better able to support her family now – both emotionally and financially. She is hopeful again.