Posted by: Christo De Klerk 5 years ago
Willie, almost 7, and Mandla 9, have been staying with us since they were 2 and 4 years old. Both are clever, mischievous little boys. On a freezing winter afternoon, 5 years ago, we found Willie and his brother Mandla, in a tiny, dilapidated tin shack.
Willie was lying on a filthy mattress under a thin sleeping bag next to his dying mother, lethargic from thirst and hunger. There were no other furniture in the shack; just a red little bucket with dirty, brown water in it. Mandla, only 4 at the time, scooped a little of the dirty water in the only plastic cup and tried to encourage his mother to take a sip. She was completely naked under the sleeping bag. Whilst we were dressed in layers of warm clothes and padded windbreakers, the 2 little boys were wearing too small sweat pants and tops to protect them from the icy wind. Nothing else. No socks or shoes; no t-shirt, underpants or jacket. Both were filthy and quite smelly.
There was no food in the house. They kept on pointing to their mouths to indicate that they wanted something to eat. With hollow eyes the mother tried to communicate to us to take her 2 little boys. But even though we desperately wanted to, without a court order we would create a lot of trouble for our organisation. With promises to be back the next day, we left with aching hearts, confused by the hatred the rest of the community felt towards this Mozambican family. But a nasty surprise was waiting for us. Neither the social workers, nor the police would help in getting the 2 placed with us, even with the mothers consent. Both Social Services as well as the police argued that since they were foreigners, it was out of their jurisdiction. At least the police captain offered us 2 constables for protection against the abusive community after we informed them that in that case, we will fetch the boys illegally and face the music afterwards. It just did not feel right to let the children suffer without trying to do something. Granny started cooking a big pot of soup with loads of fatty meat and chunky vegetables, whilst we went on our way to fetch Mandla and Willie.
They were still dressed in the same dirty clothes as the day before. Willie was playing with a big carving knife in the dirt. At least their mother prepared them by telling them that they were going to stay with ‘white people’ from now on, which made it so much easier as they were quite excited and not scared at all. Tears were streaming down their mother’s face as she said good bye to her precious boys. We left her with ample food, clothes, blankets and paraffin for the new stove that we gave her. On arrival at the home, Mandla and Willie were greeted by 6 boisterous, friendly, little black faces of other children already staying with us.
Much excitement followed as they all sat down for soup and bread. It astonishing how much food 2 little hungry boys can wolf down! The wonder and amazement on their faces when we put them in the bath for the first time is so precious. Mandla kept on flushing the toilet and screeched in delight at the rushing water. Later he stood rigidly in front of the television, not taking his eyes off it for a minute. Putting them to bed was just as delightful as they whispered and giggled when they realised that they each had their own bed with lots of fluffy blankets. Now, 5 years down the line, they speak fluent Afrikaans and English and do well at school. They are well adjusted, happy boys and although Mandla is a bit shy, his brother Willie makes up with heaps of self-confidence. (Sadly, their mother passed away shortly after they were placed with us.)Share on Twitter Share on Facebook