Woman opens her home to abandoned children

Nomtha Mboneli is caring for ten children in her village in the rural Eastern Cape

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Nomtha Mboneli, seated on the right, with some of the children she is caring for at her home in Hlwahlwazi village outside Flagstaff. Photo: Yamkela Ntshongwana

A 33-year-old woman in Hlwahlwazi village outside Flagstaff in the rural Eastern Cape has opened her home to abandoned children. Nomtha Mboneli says some of the children were left on her doorstep by teenage mothers, while some teenage mothers placed children with her and then never returned.

Mboneli is currently looking after ten children, aged between two and 18.

“What I’m doing is to give a safe and warm home to these children. I also make sure that they go to school every day,” says Mboneli.

Her home has three rooms and one rondavel. She has one assistant.

She says she lets the children know she is only a guardian. “I do not wish them to lose the relationship with their biological parents if the parents are willing to take part.’’

Mboneli is unemployed and relies on a child support grant she receives for her three-year-old child. Her parents also assist and they gave her money to buy school uniforms for the children.

“None of the children get grants. Their mothers left with their birth certificates,” says Mboneli. Some mothers withheld these so that they could keep on getting the child grants. Not having birth certificates, however, results in other bureaucratic challenges for Mboneli.

Alungile Ndayi, 18, who grew up in Mboneli’s home, says, “My parents abandoned me and have not made any contact … Not that I care. I’m happy here and I’m getting all the love I need.”

Ndayi said they spend weekends and holidays dancing, doing Bible study, playing netball and having piano accordion lessons. One day she says she would like to assist Mboneli.

Mboneli says her parents have a church in Idutywa which serves as a shelter for the homeless. She used to help her mother to bath and feed the people at the centre. “I grew up knowing that I should take care of other people whether I know them or not. My parents taught me the spirit of ubuntu,” she says.

Ten years ago, when she lived in Johannesburg, she helped street children. “Even if it was for one day, I would go home happy, knowing that on that day the kids would go to bed with a full stomach,” she says.

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TOPICS:  Society

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