Thobeka’s story: Supporting our neighbours living in distress: The SHIELD Programme
When we met Thobeka (31), a single mother of 3 children (11, 4 and 2), life was very tough. She recalls how she would have sleepless nights caused by her children’s cries of hunger. She was unemployed and was relying on social grants to meet her and her children’s needs for shelter, clothing, schooling, nutrition and other basic needs. “I would cry with them, because I felt like I failed them,” explains Thobeka. “I would tell them that whatever situation we are in, we can persevere because God is with us and that one day it will be fine.”
“It was difficult putting myself in their shoes, with an empty stomach. My son would often tell me about his visits to our neighbours, and how much food they had and about the snacks they bought for themselves. I wished there was a way to spare my children and take on their hunger myself.”
One of the reasons she couldn’t get work was that the jobs she applied for wouldn’t allow her to bring her youngest to work with her. She was looking to take care of her children but couldn’t afford child care. Sadly, as a result she would need to constantly ask for food from neighbours on a rotation basis. She would beg for leftovers for her son to have breakfast before school and porridge for her youngest two to eat throughout the day. “I was ashamed. Whenever the neighbours saw me, they knew I was there to ask for something. It was painful, but I had no choice because I wanted my children to have something in their stomachs.”
Things took a turn for the better when volunteers from our SHIELD ‘adopt a family’ programme stepped in to help get her back on her feet. They were able to provide
Thobeks’s family with basic necessities such as food and toiletries on a monthly basis. She expressed how much the support brought her and her children together and helped them return to a happy and united life. She has hopes and dreams s for her children to focus on school and one day have good jobs, so that they may also sponsor other families in need was becoming a reality.
Through HOPE’s connection with Preschools in the area, we were able to put her two youngest children into a preschool for free. This also enabled her to get hired by the department of education to be a cook at Zandspruit Primary.
We are so proud of Thobeka and the strides she’s taken to support her family. A special thank you to Thobeka’s sponsors and to all who have been a part of the SHIELD programme. Your assistance makes a lifetime impact on vulnerable families with children