My Calling: Gugu
At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Gugu shares her story and the journey that has led her to serve in her home country of South Africa.
“I grew up in the community of Masoyi with my parents and five siblings. When I was in grade 10, my parents separated. I stayed with my father, along with my siblings and my mother moved to live with another husband. In 2003, my father passed away; forcing my mother to come back and take care of us. However, she was sick and passed away in 2005. Since that point, I was responsible for helping my older sister take care of our younger siblings. When I finished my grade 12 year, I knew that I needed find a job to try to help provide for the family. My older brother had previously left school to be a carpenter and my older sister left school to work in the forest so that they could do their part in providing for the family.
When I finished grade 12, I didn’t have any hope for the future or think that I could be someone because even going to school was difficult. It was common for my siblings and I to attend school with no lunch. Growing up, I never thought that I would go to college. After I finished school, I had a couple different jobs. One was working at a farm and the other was selling chicken in the community.
During this time, my siblings started attending the Care Point in the community of Masoyi which was being supported by Hands at Work. Every month, our family would receive food parcels from the Community Based Organisation and we were visited regularly by our Care Worker, Jabulile. It was during this time that I met Jayme and Lynn Chotowetz, who lived in South Africa from 2006–2014. It was then that I heard about Hands at Work, which Lynn and Jayme were a part of. I joined the Hands at Work Forward Education program with several other students, which helped to upgrade school marks enabling us to attend university.
When I was finishing the Forward Education program, I needed to write an exam to qualify for university – which I wrote and passed. I was chosen to receive a scholarship from Hope HIV. In 2008, I started attending college where I studied social auxiliary work. From there, I went to university in another province where I studied youth development for four years.
After I finished university, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Eventually, I moved to an area known as Bushbuck Ridge in 2012, where I got married and later gave birth to my son, Rifumo. I knew that I wanted to give back to my community so I found an organisation that I wanted to serve with in 2015. However later that year, I realised that this organisation didn’t have the same vision that I had for helping the most vulnerable.
I knew Audrey Sibiya, a Hands at Work leader, so I asked her if it would be possible to serve with Hands at Work. She discussed it with the Regional Support Team leaders and in August 2015, invited me to come serve with them.
Through serving with Hands at Work, I have an opportunity to give back to the vulnerable. Sometimes I visit houses where the children are facing similar challenges to how I grew up. I remember hearing Lynn ask the question, while I was still in Forward Education program, ‘who would like to go to work to give back?’ and I realised that maybe I can give back by visiting people in their homes and giving my time.
I grew up attending church as my father was a pastor. However, it was only in March 2016 that I came to know the ‘Jesus We Know’ and accepted Him as my Lord and Saviour. I realised that I had been going to church but I didn’t know the Jesus that Hands at Work was sharing about - but I wanted to! Growing up, I was a person who would undermine myself, my opinions and easily lose my temper. Since I’ve found Christ, I have learned to forgive and am able to have self-control. The majority of the time, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy. I have learned how to believe in myself. Over the years, I think that God has been teaching me to love, forgive and continue to be patient with the people around me.”
Gugu lives in Cork Community, South Africa with her husband and son. She continues to serve as a member of the Hazyview Local Office Team.
Are YOU being called? Come!