By Zukisani Nzala
Within Zola we have created our first Vuk’ukhanye group. This group is comprised of seven individuals, and it’s just right for us to maintain a safe environment. Everyone feels safe sharing and discussing challenges in the community. We teach them to respond with love and care for each other. However, Zola presents its own sets of challenges such as robbery, rape, and peer to peer trust issues. Our meetings happen every Sunday evening.
There was one Sunday where everyone was busy, and could not come to the meeting except for one lady. We sat down with her and we had a nice conversation. As we were about to leave I asked her, “Uziva njani? (How are you feeling?) She paused for a moment, and started sharing about how things were back home. Her mother had left her with her grandparents, and she had never met her father. She could see that her grandparents were struggling, and with no support from her mother, she couldn’t stay and watch her grandparents continual struggle. She made the very difficult decision to leave her 5 years old child with them, and came to Cape Town to look for a job. The grandparents were frustrated, angry, and they voiced their displeasure in her leaving. Unfortunately, they said bad things to her, like cursing her and not wishing her well. However, she came to Cape Town anyways and a friend took her in. She got a job, and every week she sends money to them, but the grandparents still won’t talk to her. Now she feels all alone and frustrated because she doesn’t know what to do. She has never shared this with anyone because she thought no one would care. No one had ever asked her before about anything that is happening in her life; not even the friend that took her in, and because of that she has never trusted anyone. I am glad though that God brought us to her, and I believe that He is working through us to reach out to people like her.
It has been a couple of weeks since Vuk`ukhanye ministry started in Zola, and I am there almost every day trying to get more people to come to the meetings. I personally would like to see more people from the community to be involved. The other day I visited one of the ministry members, and I was told about a boy who has been behaving terribly to his parents as well as his friends. The boy’s name is, Siyamthanda (meaning we love him), but unfortunately he is not getting that kind of love. His mother sells sheep feet for some extra money, and his stepfather is a construction worker who has a tendency to be violent. The boy had to watch his stepfather beat his mother, and he would also get beaten by both of them. Furthermore, when he plays with his friends he always hits them when he wants something, swears at his mother, and kicks her. People in the community see him as a mentally disturbed child, the boy has been abused his entire life, so when we saw him sitting alone with an angry face, I quickly remembered what I heard about him. I then told Mr. Jung, he asked Siyamthanda if he was upset and he said yes. “Who are you angry at?” Jung asked. He said he is angry at his mother and father because they beat him. I was so hurt to hear him say that, I could see that he was really sad, but after we spoke to him he was so calm. Since then I’ve kept on visiting him during the week after school, and I spend some time with him helping him do his homework. Vuk`ukhanye members adopted him and started to pay attention. We also talk about what he likes and does not like. He said when his father beats his mom, and when they both beat him and shout at him he does not like it. He also doesn’t like to go to school because his teacher beats him, and other kids make fun of him because when there is a school outing he is the only kid in his class that does not go to those outings. So I decided to visit his class teacher with Sinoyolo, she’s also part of the Vuk`ukhanye community group. When we got to the school we were told his teacher is no longer teaching at that school anymore, so we met with his new teacher. We were able to speak to her about his situation at home, how the community has been treating him, and what we trying to do with him. She said she noticed that he was struggling with the school work. When she gave them some work in class she would have to stand next to him till he finishes, so we asked her nicely to pay more attention to him.
It’s been about a week now since all this has happened, and Siyamthanda has not been beaten because he behaves better. He is calm and happy like any other child should be, and I gave him a haircut to look the part as well.
In the following Vuku’khanye meeting we discussed about him, and they said they noticed a change in him. Now when they see him on the street and call him he does not run away from them, but now he comes to greet us. Before he would just run away because in his mind you want to beat him, and that’s why he would not go to the person who called him.