Joyce Nxumalo was hopeless. In Nxumalo’s eyes, “when things are not in your favor, your mind also dies down gradually.” She knew that she craved more from her life, but she didn’t know her fulfillment would come in the form of HOPE worldwide South Africa.
Gogo Joyce is a 59-year-old a mother of four girls, Tambi 43 and Sharon 39 , who both live in Soweto, Bindza 32 who lives in Swaziland, and Tengentile 27 in Daveyton, and five grandchildren. Origninally from Swaziland, Gogo Joyce moved to the informal settlement of Daveyton as a teenager after stopping school and has lived there ever since. Gogo Joyce worked as a secretary for most of her life and excelled in her work. When Gogo Joyce moved in with her youngest daughter, Tengentile, her main focus became helping to take care of her two grandchildren, Sandza, 11 and Siphosethu, 6.
“I would sell seeds and wash peoples clothes to take care of my youngest daughter and her children,” explains Gogo Joyce, “because when I was young my father died and my mother tried to put me and my siblings through matric but she couldn’t, so I did what I could for them”. Gogo Joyce ’s life was mostly confined to her home and taking care of her family, until one day everything changed.
A HOPE worldwide SA home visitor, by chance, knocked on Nxumalo’s door and invited her to a Parent Support Group (PSG). As one of the most impactful programs of HOPE, Parent Support Groups enable parents, grandparents and guardians of young children to learn essential skills and knowledge about raising children ranging from a prenatal age, to age 6. “At first I thought, ‘what about children?,’ ” says Nxumalo, “Because I have two grandchildren, one falling under that category (Sandza, 6), I went without interest because I knew I was doing the best I could for them.” But while she believed that she may not learn much because of her age and experience, Nxumalo soon saw that the program offered her so much more than she imagined.
“What I learned that day about children was a different version than what I knew” says Gogo Joyce, “I saw that children are special in our lives, we should value them. We don’t have to grow them the way we were grown, because we were beaten and everything was done by force and command.”
“But you have to listen to a child, give them the space to say anything they like. They will talk to you!” adds Nxumalo.
After attending the Parent Support Group Nxumalo began to play soccer, started a garden, would stay up all night helping her grandchildren to finish their homework, and even began building a house. “Life changed in all aspects; physically, mentally, spiritually,” says Nxumalo, “but most importantly I began praying with an open heart which I think has paved my way for going after my dreams.”
After graduating from the Parent Support Group, Nxumalo received a call from HOPE worldwide SA asking her to take part in an interview about becoming a PSG leader. “Because of my age, I went without hope of anything positive,” says Nxumalo. However, soon after, Nxumalo was informed that she would indeed be a Parent Support Group Leader, and would now be facilitating the same groups that had so powerfully changed her life. “Wow! I was a PSG leader, I could not believe this! It is so interesting to deal with people and learn what life is about,” exclaims Nxumalo.
With all of the change and progress that had occurred for her personally and in her home life, Nxumalo knew that education would ultimately be her family’s way out of poverty and allow them to have a lasting impact.
“After getting this job, I decided to study with UNISA; teaching has been my dream throughout.” Nxumalo began taking classes toward a Bachelor of Education degree (Early Childhood Development) in hopes of opening her own after care. “Children in the community are suffering, children in the townships are suffering. I want to encourage them to go to school, they can do anything,” Nxumalo encourages.
“I want my four girls to know you’re never too old for education.” Nxumalo continues to work in the community informing people of the importance of Early Childhood Development and bringing them to support groups. “HOPE worldwide opens a person’s mind,” Nxumalo declares, “before, I was burdened, I couldn’t sleep, I had no help and the money I was receiving was not enough,” explains Gogo Joyce, “but with HOPE’s help, I feel free, I have a job, I’m getting an education, I have good relationships. Thank you very much HOPE, your sessions have made a very strong impact on people’s lives; many have confessed.”
By Maya Birden – Media and Marketing Intern