Crossing Borders: A story of hope

Imagine running away from your place of birth, to a strange country thousands of kilometers away with little knowledge of whether you will ever see your home again. This is what happened to 16 year old Mary and her family, when they fled to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of the ongoing political conflict.

Mary, her mother and two sisters were caught in the middle of a political conflict by rebel forces and hoped that by coming to South Africa, they could leave this ordeal behind them and start a new life. With no job or money and little protection from South African officials, they found themselves in a refugee shelter. For six years, Mary and her family struggled to survive, moving from one shelter to the next and often sleeping on the streets in the bitter cold. After a bad spell of ill health, Mary’s mother was diagnosed with HIV and passed away a few months later. Mary and her two sisters were then taken under the care of social workers who found them a loving home at the Siyaphambili AIDS Orphan Village.

About Siyaphambili AIDS Orphan Village

The Siyaphambili AIDS Orphan Village provides a temporary home for children affected by the AIDS epidemic in Langa Township in Cape Town. They also have two outreach programmes, one for teen mothers and a second for grandmothers raising their grandchildren. They also assist child-headed households, provide counseling and have an after-school program and crèche on-site.

Siyaphambili takes guardianship of orphans who are of school going age and undertakes to ensure that they have a safe environment where they can flourish and become upstanding citizens who contribute constructively to society.

Today Mary is a confident 16 year old who has a bright future ahead of her “I owe my life to Mama Ndileka, the founder of Siyaphambili AIDS Orphans Village who saw the need for HIV and AIDS orphans to be cared for and loved. Before we were discovered, we lived in a shelter with no food, no privacy and no warm clothes”.

“Thanks to Siyaphambili AIDS Orphan Village, our lives have changed for the better. We have a house we can call home and we can live a private and dignified life. The monthly food support we receive from FoodBank South Africa guarantees us a meal each day. Thanks to FoodBank South Africa’s support, we are able to save money we would have spent buying food, and instead we receive a transport allowance which saves us from walking an hour a day to get to school.”

Mary is now in Grade 12 and aspires to attend university to study a Business Administration degree next year. She also hopes to better her life and pay it forward by supporting other orphans who come to South Africa in pursuit of a better life.

FoodBank South Africa is proud to have made such an impact in efforts to eradicate poverty and fight hunger in this home. Apart from the nutritious food we donate, FoodBank SA is able to assist the orphanage with detergents, sanitary towels, toiletries, and infant care products. The donations enable the orphanage to save on their monthly expenses and use the money saved for developing their facilities and the welfare of their beneficiaries.

The name used in this story has been changed in order to protect the identity of the individual.