Gogo starts support group

2016-09-13 06:00
Photo: Max Bastard Khonsiwe Meyiwa a 57-year-old granny from Inchanga.

Photo: Max Bastard Khonsiwe Meyiwa a 57-year-old granny from Inchanga.

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DETERMINED to succeed with everything she tackles, Khonsiwe Meyiwa­, a 57-year-old granny from Inchanga, is making waves in her community by encouraging people to get educated and achieve their dreams.

Meyiwa came to Inchanga in 1994 because of political violence in her home town of Swayimane, near Wartburg. After she was widowed in 1999, she started a crèche and after-school club when she learnt that a child nearby had died because of neglect.
Caring for seven of her own children, and 13 grandchildren, she has dedicated her life to helping children and parents in her community.

The inspiring go-getter founded the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (Hact) Gogo Support Group, and set up an adult education school. She is now a full-time, paid child support worker with Hact, running a support group focused on HIV prevention and life skills for 50 children.

“I never finished school so I decided to educate myself and got my certificate­ at the age of 54. If I can educate­ myself at that age, so can others. A total of 15 parents at the school now have certificates.”

Claire Hodgkinson, marketing and fund-raising manager­ at Hact, said these gogos are most affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic.

“Many grannies have lost their children to Aids, and are left to care for their grandchildren. In many instances, one grandmother cares for more than 10 grandchildren after losing four or more children.

“While grannies are supposed to be relaxing in their retirement and taken care of, across our communities these grannies are stressed and struggling to put food on the table for their grandchildren,” she said,

Hodgkinson added that gogos are also having to put these children through school, despite the fact that many of them cannot read or write as they were not formally educated during South Africa’s apartheid era.
To add to the challenges some grannies face, their grandchildren can also have HIV/Aids and require more care and support than a healthy child would.

“In response to this, Hact started a gogo support group project.
“We currently have over 50 granny support groups operating across seven different communities, with roughly 2 000 grandmothers involved in total.
The groups meet regularly to support each other in their plight as grandmothers affected by HIV/Aids.

“The groups engage in many stress-alleviation and skills-development activities, including sports and parenting skills training, bereavement­ counselling, sewing, gardening and crafts training.
“The grandmothers hone skills that can help them bring in an income to support their grandchildren, and they are equipped with skills and support to enable them to meet the needs of their grandchildren,” she added.

If you want support the gogos or find out more about the support groups, contact 031 765 5866.

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