How poverty interferes with dreams: Andiswa Nkuphe’s story

| Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik
Umanyano lwabaphulaphula donated groceries, school uniforms and blankets to the Nkuphe family. Photo supplied by Umanyano lwabaphulaphula.

Andiswa Nkuphe lives with her eight siblings. Their house is a shipping container. Despite good school results and ambitions of becoming a nurse, she has to take care of her siblings, because their mother has been sick for almost two years and she’s been in hospital since January this year.

Nkuphe is 21. She lives in Nomlacu location in Bizana, a rural Eastern Cape town about three hours drive north-east of Mthatha. She passed her matric with a B symbol in 2013. She says, “My dream is to further my studies and become a social worker or a nurse but I can’t leave my siblings alone. They are young and now that my mother is in hospital things are very difficult.”

The family moved into their current temporary home after heavy rains destroyed their house in 2011. Their container has no electricity. They use candles for light and they cook on wood fires. Nkuphe’s siblings are aged two to 14. All go to school except the two-year old, who Nkhupe has to look after.

“I do not want to lie. Life is difficult but I’m trying to be strong for my siblings. The area we live in is not safe and I can’t leave my siblings alone to go look for a job. They are young and there are no guarantees that I will quickly find a job,” says Nkuphe.

The family depends on a child support grant and, because one of the siblings is disabled, a disability grant. However Nkuphe says sometimes food runs out before the end of the month and she has to ask neighbours for help.

Nkuphe says wherever she goes she is forced to take the two-year-old. “I do not want to end up in this situation, but it is hard for me to be far from my family,” she says. There has however been some good news for Nkuphe. A non-profit organisation based in Cape Town, the Umanyano Lwabaphulaphuli Initiative, has come to her assistance. The organisation has donated groceries, blankets and school uniforms to the family.

The organisation’s co-ordinator Mondli Maqabaza said they heard about Nkuphe’s situation from a friend, who contacted the family via Facebook. “What made us do something was when he heard the cry of a young woman, saying she can’t even afford airtime to call her younger brother who was in hospital [with a broken arm] and she’s struggling to visit him because they do not have money at home,” said Maqabaza.

With happiness in her voice, Nkuphe said over the phone, “This is the first time someone has done such a thing for us. At least for now I won’t be worried about what to cook for my siblings and they won’t worry about what they are going to eat after school.”

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