If you guys have been following this blog for the last decade-plus-years, you'd vouch for me that I try to keep the stories light and hopeful. Today it's impossible to spin a happy tale. I type this with tears piling up making it hard to see the keyboard.
We were alerted by one of our partners Nomfundo that there was a family in dire need of help. We didn't know much at the time and Nomfundo NEVER asks for specific things - feeling like that is overstepping some boundary. She just introduces us to families who need help and asks us to help "in any way we can". Sometimes we end up finding a child who has had to drop out of school for many years because although they are now living with a grandmother who loves them, there is no money for school fees. So we pay their tuition and uniform fees with your donations. Other times we find a child who has food scarcity or lack of water access and we use your donations to address those needs. The needs are usually great, sometimes expensive, but almost always possible to overcome. Today we found a complete and utter tragedy.
We arrived at the homestead to find that every single adult has died. No grandparents. No parents. No aunts or uncles. Poof. Gone. But, what remains in the home are EIGHT small children. The eldest, 16 but still doing grade 7 (elementary school), is now in charge of raising the seven little ones...which means he is in charge of feeding them, clothing them, providing psychosocial support, and teaching them everything your parents taught you. Who is there for him? How does he do this without money or a job... still only a child himself?
The youngest is only 4 - my daughter's age. Since the oldest 7 kids go to elementary school all day, the 4 year old stays home alone. STAYS HOME ALONE. What in the actual eff?! Seeing him sitting in front of his stick and mud hut playing with an old plastic measuring spoon with dirty knees and the absolute emptiest saddest expression on his face shredded my heart. My daughter can't even poop without an audience and a fairytale story where she is the hero. And this child - factoring in the siblings' walk to and from school - is absolutely alone fending for himself every day for 8 hours. No stories. No hugs. No guidance. No love. Alone. With a broken measuring spoon and a large cup of water (hopefully clean/potable?!) left for him in case he gets thirsty while EVERYONE is gone.
It took a while to process the situation. To triage the needs.
- Immediately we saw that we could fill their need of water with a rain catchment system. Kait and I rushed around Malindza ordering and hauling building materials while Raymond and a crewmate Ben repaired the roof, built the stand, tank and gutter system that will harvest the rain water from their roof offering them a means to irrigate the vegetable garden they were trying to prepare. Done!
- The grandmother was trying to build them a home but failed to finish it before she died earlier this year such that when it rains outside, it's wet inside. Tomorrow Raymond and Ben will seal the home with plaster sand both inside and outside. The kids will stay dry despite any inclement weather. Tomorrow!
- We will be searching for a preschool that will accept the 4 year old mid-year so that he is no longer home alone all day. We will need to pay for his tuition (usually $150 a year but I won't know for sure until we find the school) and school shoes/uniform (usually $50) hopefully soon
- The 8 kids sleep on one icky dilapidated foam mattress pad. We'd love to buy them a new mattress, pillows, sheets and blankets for $225 hopefully soon
- A chicken coop could give could give the kids a means of protein (nutrition with the eggs) and income (with the sale of the chickens). It's about $800 for the coop and the chickens and a starter set of feed hopefully soon.
I hope I didn't scare you with our needs! Thanks to Cindy Kaser for her recent donation before this post... we will be putting your money toward this family. If anyone else donates, we'll do the same. These kids need our support to be self-sufficient. These kids need a tiny miracle. Will you be a part of the miracle? I know we can do it if we join together!
mail a check made out to GHFP to 2436 N Alabama St Indy IN 46205
SIYABONGA KAKHULU for making things happen!!