A caring ma for all

2017-08-08 14:25
Child and youth care worker Lucia Mdletshe from the Pietermaritzburg Children’s Home in Woodlands says she has dedicated her life to helping troubled children heal, find themselves and succeed in life.

Child and youth care worker Lucia Mdletshe from the Pietermaritzburg Children’s Home in Woodlands says she has dedicated her life to helping troubled children heal, find themselves and succeed in life. (Ian carbutt)

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A local single mother of two, who is passionate about caring for vulnerable children, has opened her heart by mothering 20 additional children from the Pietermaritzburg Children’s Home in Woodlands where she works as a qualified child and youth care worker.

Lucia Mdletshe (39), who has worked as a care worker for different children’s homes for the past 14 years, said nothing gives her greater joy than seeing the children she takes care of happy and enjoying their childhoods.

“The children I’m currently taking care of are teenage girls. They are all here because they had troubles in their homes, they all have different problems and personalities and it is very important for me to be able to handle them and address them differently.

“When the children arrive into my care, I tell them that they can either call me ma or aunt. Most of them prefer calling me ma. It is an amazing feeling to have a child call you ma because most of them tell me that in their lives they have never had the chance to call anyone ma and I play that role.

“I feel honoured and blessed to know that they see me as their mother figure.

“I make sure the children in my care are taken care of emotionally, I take time to talk to them individually and make sure they are all happy. Seeing them happy and doing good at school makes me happy too.

“I have learnt to detach myself from my personal problems and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the children as I spend most of my time here.

“We have therapeutic programmes and teach them life skills. We do daily observations like hygiene and emotions. We make sure that they feel at home and are treated like they are at home. We take them shopping, we send them to the shops down the road, we prepare indigenous foods, they have their chores and duties just to have that homely environment for them.

“We accept the children as they are and we don’t discriminate, we welcome them and prepare them for the real world because eventually they will have to leave and go back to their families, adoptive families or sometimes to start their lives as they get over 18.

“I sometimes share my own stories with them. I tell them about my struggles after having a child at the age of 16.

“Despite having done this job for over 10 years now, I never tell myself that I have seen or heard the worst because until today, the stories I hear from the children still break my heart and make me cry.

“I sometimes wish I can hold onto them until they are adults because I am scared of letting them go back to society or their homes.

“It is always a bitter-sweet moment when the time comes for me to let go, it becomes hard because the bond I have formed with them is so strong and it’s always like I am saying goodbye to my biological child.

“Nothing gives me joy like seeing some of the children I have taken care of making it in life. Some are lawyers today. Seeing these young souls, who were once broken and scared succeeding in life brings me joy.

“Growing up, I initially wanted to be a social worker because I had witnessed the suffering of too many children with no stable families and I had this desperate desire to help them.

“When I completed my matric I discovered the BC qualification in child care and opted to study it instead.

“I love my job and don’t imagine myself doing anything else,” said Mdletshe.

Lucia Mdletshe’s story as told to NOMPILO KUNENE

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pmb people

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