These TEN YEARS that we have worked with the people of the Ofafa Valley Community, we dedicate to Mrs Grace Nomsebenzi Bekwa, a 75 year old woman - mother, grandmother, great grandmother - of exceptional strength and courage.
Gogo Bekwa's story warms our hearts, especially when we remember her situation some years back and consider the great changes that have occurred in her household and in the lives of her grandchildren. Hers is a story that exemplifies our holistic and integrated approach at Woza Moya. In this one household interventions from every one of Woza Moya's main programmes were needed - home-based care services, paralegal interventions, emergency relief food parcels, school support, food security and psychosocial support. Her story highlights the fact that issues cannot be dealt with in isolation; that peoples' lives - and therefore our responses to them - cannot be compartmentalised. Particularly in the work we do, it would be a great mistake to assume that any one challenge could be dealt with in a linear fashion.
Nomsebenzi Grace Bekwa is a 75-year-old widow. She had three sons, all of whom have died, and three daughters, two of whom have died. Her oldest daughter lived in Johannesburg when she became sick and subsequently died from AIDS-related illness leaving two children, aged five and 11 in her care.
Nombsebenzi's second daughter also became sick. At this point, Woza Moya began visiting and counselling the family. However, this daughter was also HIV positive. It was too late to help her and tragically, she too died, leaving four children: a special needs child of 11, as well as a nine, seven and two-year-old in Granny Nomsebenzi's care.
None of the children had birth certificates, so until Woza Moya stepped in to help them, Granny Nomsebenzi was unable to apply for government assistance.
While waiting for the certificates, Woza Moya staff helped the family with food parcels and school uniforms and when the documents were finally approved, Woza Moya assisted Nomsebenzi in applying for a foster care grant, and for a while continued providing food parcels.
Together with the Heifer Project, Woza Moya helped the family develop their vegetable garden, provided seedlings and back-up assistance; and provided training in poultry production, after which Granny Nomsebenzi received 18 egg-laying chickens. Soon she was able to start selling eggs to her neighbours. In the Heifer tradition, once she had enough hens and was able to assist another family with chickens, she was eligbe to receive two pregnant female goats.
A year later, Granny Nomsebenzi received foster care grants for the six children and Woza Moya was able to stop the food parcels. Nomsebenzi continued with her veggie garden and her food-producing animals. From her two goats, she raised 23. She periodically sells goats and uses the money to support the children.
However, even though she worked hard to look after her grandchildren, she had difficulty handling them. Woza Moya arranged for her to receive Thandanani Time training along with other grannies. Nomsebenzi learned new child-raising skills and the children's behaviour improved radically.
Her grandchildren also began attending the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children support groups. The two oldest girls finished grade 12, at which point their grant was curtailed. The other three children are still at school and even though the family is something of a success story, Woza Moya still monitors and engages with them.