Zwelisha, South Africa
When Nkosenhle and Innocencia’s mother abandoned them, they were left with their father Ringo who married a second wife, Gabisile. Gabisile and her children are from Swaziland. Refugees face many challenges if they do not possess South African identification or birth certificates from their own country.
Children cannot advance in school, and families cannot receive any financial support from the government. Gabisile has two children: Sinenkosi, a nine-year-old boy, and Nompilo, a six-year-old girl who could not advance past grade 1. Ringo is not supportive as a father figure in his home. Gabisile struggles daily to provide for their family while Ringo is often absent, staying away for multiple nights. With no employment, finding enough food for her own children and step children is hindered by Gabisile’s inability to access financial support from the government.
In 2012, Care Workers in Zwelisha found Sinenkosi and Nompilo playing behind a local shop in the middle of the day and asked why they were not in school. As they heard the story and challenges of this family, they saw the need for intervention. They brought all four children to the local Care Point in Zwelisha where they began receiving a nutritious meal and access to basic health care. The Care Workers began advocating for Sinekosi and Nompilo to attend school. They spoke to Ringo, stressing the need for him to acquire their birth certificates from Swaziland, but he showed no interest or concern to assist his step children.
Today, Sarah is Nkosenhle, Innocencia, Sinenkosi and Nompilo’s Care Worker. She has become a loving parental figure to the children, and a caring support to Gabisile. Each day the children bring some of their own food home from the Care Point to give to Gabisile. Sarah’s compassion for the children led her to advocate at the local elementary school for Sinenkosi and Nompilo; requesting they be allowed to attend without identification. Her commitment to speak on behalf of the most vulnerable children was honoured and today all four siblings are attending school.
Read more stories of Care Workers advocating for the most vulnerable in their communities.