We wanted to share with you the following article that was written by Calsile Masilela, a writer for the Swazi Observer (one of two major newspapers here) that came to visit us, and who we feel really understands our works.
As the adult generation ages 15-49 struggles with a 34% HIV prevalence rate and more people that age are dying, their children are left behind as orphans to be taken care of by extended family or neighbors. Grandmothers (gogos) like Gogo Shongwe portrayed in the article below often take on caretaking duties at an age when they would normally expect care themselves.
We at Cabrini Ministries try to ease the burden on families affected by HIV/AIDS by helping to raise orphaned and vulnerable children with a co-parenting approach, providing shelter, food, clothing, school fees, psychosocial support, health care, etc. for orphaned children while also helping them maintain a connection with home and their remaining family members. We also try to help struggling caretakers like Gogo Shongwe with food and health care.
This article was published in the Swazi Observer, Monday May 5, 2008.
CABRINI MINISTRIES HOUSE, EDUCATE, FEED OVC
… As the drought hits hard on Lubombo folk
Photo of Gogo Shongwe by Jane Gillooly
Gogo (granny) Maria Shongwe, who lives with her orphaned 11 grandchildren, said she had never expected to live under such harsh conditions. Gogo Shongwe related that in the past they used to engage in farming but stopped because of the drought.
“We now depend on food aid, which is also not reliable because at times we go for one to two months without receiving the rations,” said Gogo Shongwe. She added that she was disturbed that some of the grandchildren do not go to school because she could not afford to pay for their school fees.
She mentioned that out of the 11 grandchildren only five go to school, thanks to Cabrini Ministries.
This is one of Gogo Shongwe’s grandchildren that lives at the Cabrini Ministries hostel during the school year and is doing well.
“I really wish the mission staff could be blessed for they care for the needy like ourselves. When I get to the mission to visit my grandchildren at the hostel, they welcome me and I also feel at home,” she said, adding that they also give her some food to eat and some food to take home.
Gogo Shongwe said if it was not for the mission a lot of children around that place would be dead by now.
“My granddaugher, it is only now that we shall have a meal because the missionaries gave us some,” she said.
Gogo Shongwe encouraged people to visit those areas so that they would see the situation in order to make proper interventions.
“As winter approached, we have no warm clothes and there is nothing we can do from the little that I get from the grant. I used it all in buying mealie meal,” said Gogo Shongwe.
On the other hand, Dumsile Tsabedze from Luvatsi urged government to look deeper into the issue of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children for she said it was painful for them as community members to watch children caring for themselves.
“My neighbor died, she was living with her three children of which two are boys and a girl.
“The children were left with their uncle, who then left them all by themselves with no house after the one they occupied collapsed,” said Tsabedze.
Tsabedze said it was through mercy, for her family was also big and starving, that she was able to intervene to keep the children’s bodies and souls together. She expressed her gratitude to Cabrini Ministries, who also came to the rescue of the orphans and took them to the hostel.
The missionaries take care of the children fully even during school holidays when they are with her.
Photo by Jane Gillooly
If you’d like to learn more about Gogo Shongwe, she is also featured prominently in a documentary about Gogos (grandmothers) called Today the Hawk Takes One Chick by Jane Gillooly, which was filmed in our area. The film shows Gogo Shongwe’s day-to-day inspiring struggles to care for her grandchildren and raise the next generation. Click on the link below to go to the website where you can purchase the DVD of the film and learn more about the film project.
This is another of Gogo Shongwe’s grandchildren that lives at the Cabrini Ministries hostel.
There is hope in the children of the next generation- you can see it! These children have so much potential. And it is up to all of us to honor that and support orphaned, vulnerable, and needy children, so they can grow up and bring the world their best.
Blessings, love, and thanks to all who support the works,
Srs. Barbara and Diane