Dear All

We thank you all for your continuing support, prayers and donations.

Funds have been an issue, as you can imagine, with South Africa going through its economic downs. (I would like to say ups and downs, but I don’t think I can!)  For those of you who have faithfully done donations once off or regularly, your certificates for donations should be returned to you soon. They come with extreme thankfulness!

If you don’t receive one soon, please let us know so we can provide it.

We thought that you might like to hear from the Hlanganani people in and on the ground in Dieplsoot (Nonhlahla) and Cosmo/Lanseria. (Sharon). I also have included photos of the children with their carers just to make things a bit real for you; it’s private to do this, so I hope you understand the sensitivity of the sharing.

A Brighter Future! By Nonhlahla in Diepsloot

Our daughter, M. has had a very difficult background, losing her mother in a very traumatic way. When her younger sister and M. joined Hlanganani she was a very scared, timid young girl, one who barely spoke. Over the course of time, she has changed dramatically; she is now happy and confident. 

At the end of 2022, M. was given the opportunity to study at Lonehill International Academy, one of the area’s top schools. By God’s grace, she was given this scholarship. One thing we were concerned about her going to a private school was her being bullied by the other children and people in her neighbourhood. Children attending nicer schools get called different names. However, as God ordained this blessing, M. has not experienced any of this. Instead, everyone respects her and feels that she is blessed. All the parents hope that their children can also have a wonderful educational opportunity such as M. has been given.

What M. likes most about this school is the warm welcome she receives from all the teachers. She was able to make friends in a very small space of time, and the teachers made sure that she was engaged in all the school activities. It was amazing how quickly she was able to catch up with everything that was happening at the school; this was largely due to the hospitality and support she received. 

The only academic challenge thus far is that M. was never exposed to computers before, so this is one area that has been difficult for her to learn. However, she has had a very good attitude and is working hard and is happy to be at this school. Lastly, one practical challenge is that M. needs R850 per month for transport to and from school. Any support or scholarship to help cover some or all of this fee would be appreciated. 

Thoughts from Sharon –

Hlanganani’s Family & Child Coordinator 

In any given week, I set aside time to visit specific children or attend to an urgent need. Working as a Family & Child Coordinator, I assist the children, their guardians, and the Hlanganani HBC’s. 

Working with the children in a HBC capacity: 

At the beginning of the year, we accessed which Home based carers were in a position to continue volunteering with Hlanganani and mentoring the children and who were no longer in a position to do so. After this evaluation, we said goodbye to two wonderful HBC, who looked after three teenage girls from Cosmo between them. I, Sharon, have had a lovely experience of taking over the responsibility of looking after these three girls now. I have especially enjoyed getting to know them better and getting closer to them as individuals. It is one of my greatest experiences, and I am loving it. 

However, it is not without its challenges. Their previous HBC’s worked at their school; however, I live quite far from them and need to travel by taxi to visit them. This makes regular communication difficult at times as all three of them do not have phones, but I try to talk to them in the late evenings via their guardian’s phones. Unlike other folks, their guardians do not have fancy phones (smartphones) with Whatsapp, so we can only communicate by phoning them. 

Being a HBC can also be a challenge, as I want to advocate for them, but when there are no funds to help them, it is hard. For example, two of my girls need school hospitality uniforms and are not allowed to participate in their classes until they have them. Their guardians cannot afford them, and we are unable to find second-hand ones.  Even if Hlanganani can help them afford half of the hospitality coat (R150), they do not know how to make up the rest of the funds. We are trying to help the girls understand that they can earn funds by selling toilet paper, but as teenage girls, they find this hard to do.

To help them empower themselves is a challenge at times. If we force them to do this endeavour, I fear the results will not be good, so it must be something they are willing to do for themselves. I will not give up on helping them understand the importance of contributing to their own needs. I am also trying to work out a plan with them to help them commit to their studies and work hard to improve their grades so that this year is better than last year’s poor grades. 

Working with the guardians:

The guardians are eager to become self-sufficient and be able to have their own small businesses. In the past, I have trained them on how to run a small business, and recently, I have taught them how to make household products to sell. Unfortunately, many of them are finding that these are not selling well due to other competition, and the population around them (informal settlements) are not able to afford such items. Therefore, they are having no success in their endeavours. 

The children of Hlanganani have the opportunity to sell toilet paper to earn money for school uniforms, other basic needs or “pocket money”. The guardians have found that this is one item that most people want to purchase and desire to sell it too, to help their wards. We are meeting with the guardians in March to brainstorm and talk through other additional viable small business options. They are not going to give up; they want to sustain themselves and not have to rely on others to support them with their basic essentials, such as food for themselves and their children. As some of the costs to transport the children to school have been placed on them this past month, they are concerned as to how to cover these costs and are eager to have prosperous ways to do so. They have a lot of optimism! 

Working with the HBC’s:

I have a very good relationship with all the HBC’s, they are all very committed to this ministry call. However, they have been struggling with the recent financial cutbacks Hlangani has experienced this month. Even though they are struggling with limited funds, they are not giving up. They are still determined and committed to doing the work before them. They love to be shown appreciation for all that they do; encouragement means a lot to them. The HBC’s are communicating so well, giving me weekly updates on the positives and challenges that they have with their wards. 

Our new HBC is doing very well and his ward is far more positive, and his behaviour has improved a lot since he moved to live with this HBC. It has have been a good impact on his life to have his HBC and his granny being firm with him. I have weekly phone contact with most of the HBC’s and monthly in-person visits with them (other than the mentorship groups). All of the HBC’s are doing the best that they can to keep their kids healthy and happy and to ensure that they are well taken care of. 

The guardians are also trying their best as the primary caregivers, especially given all of their financial struggles taking care of their own families, plus the Hlanganani children within their homes. All that being said, they do appreciate the bit that Hlanganani does for them, and we are all determined to keep going on until Jesus comes or until the children make it in life. Assisting them to make something of their lives and to turn their lives around, even if they are from disadvantaged homes, we know they can have good futures.

– Sharon

Thank you to Sharon and Nonhlahla for the above and for all the love and support of all of the carers, mentors and tutors.  May you be blessed for your servant hearts, love and care for the children.

I hope you, who are reading this appreciate the effort that goes into the running communication and interactions that keep Hlanganani all functioning! And I hope you read to the end! 😊 Till next time.

Kind regards, Bonnie