In the mountainous area of Swaziland, nine-year-old Nolwazi leaves her house at five am to make the long two hour trek to school. Now that it is winter, it is very cold, and dark; often Nolwazi cannot even see the road in front of her. She walks alone in the dark for the first 45 minutes, and is gradually joined by other children along the way. Nolwazi does this walk every day, with nothing to eat or drink, Monday to Friday. By the time she gets back home after school, it is dark again.
Nolwazi’s mother left home a few years back and Nolwazi has no idea where she is, or where her father is either. She stays with her grandmother (Gogo), Sibongile who struggles daily to provide for Nolwazi. Gogo Sibongile chops down wood in the bushes and tries to sell it in the community, but a lack of buyers for the wood leaves Gogo Sibongile and Nolwazi in desperate circumstances. Gogo Sibongile is often not feeling well, and says, “I want Nolwazi to continue to go to school so she can become a nurse or a teacher, then she will be able to care for her other family members”.
The incredibly vulnerable situation that Nolwazi was in seemed hopeless until the Care Workers from her community, Bhandeni, heard of her story. Now, Nolwazi attends the Life Centre in Bhandeni and receives a hot, nutritious meal every day which helps to relieve some of the burden from her grandmother’s shoulders. The Care Workers began providing the children with peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, so Nolwazi has something to eat before her long, two hour walk each day. Some of the children eat their sandwiches before school, but Nolwazi prefers to save hers to eat when she arrives at school. The Care Workers in Bhandeni are passionate about ensuring Nolwazi is being taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually. They visit her and her grandmother’s home regularly, to encourage them and bring them love and hope.