Children of Hope: Teteni Home Care Nursing Services, South Africa

We arrived on the outskirts of Pretoria mid-morning and were met by close to fifty staff and grandmothers of Tateni, in the community hall of St. Francis Church. The smiles and clapping and songs of welcome from these women made it immediately clear that these were women of courage and joy.

Despite the cool rain and fog, we could see, hear and feel the heart and passion of an entire community, and we knew that we were privileged to spend time with such tenacious women!

In the face of all of their grief, they inspire dignity and hope in all children they care for. One grandmother named Francine stood and expressed profound thanks for bringing children into her life “because children are teachers and we learn so much from them”.

At Tateni there is no word for orphan. Instead, children who have lost one or more parents because of AIDS, are known as children of hope.

We spent most of the day together. As the morning became afternoon and the sun started to come out, we sat together in small groups, talking about grandchildren, our struggles and our triumphs.

As we sang and swayed together, (Princess) Margaret from Tateni – a self-described “proud senior citizen” – performed a poem that brought goosebumps to many of our arms:

Where there’s a woman
There’s a way, there’s a will.
Where there’s a woman
There’s an organization, there’s work to be done.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a manager, a director.
Whenever there is a woman present
There’s an engagement, and someone is busy doing something.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a nation.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a nation.
Where there’s a woman
There’s a nation, there is love.

Tateni started with the vision and compassion of just one woman, who wanted “to provide care in the home for those who are sick”. Today, Tateni provides home-based care, support to grandmothers, community gardening and food and after-school activities for children.

“We work so hard only because we love what we do. You have to love what you do in order to be able to say, I’ve got to wake up today and go back to work. This is the type of work that is not financially rewarding. This is the type of work that is full of sorrow. When I started working at Tateni, I would go sometimes without eating in the evening, because I’d be thinking about the people I’d met who wouldn’t be eating – who don’t even have a plate to eat from. But this is also the type of work that I love.”

Regina Mokgokong, Executive Director, Tateni

As we were getting ready to leave our friends at Tateni, Lisbie Rae, a Canadian grandmother, stood and shared her appreciation for the day:
“We heard your stories and we wanted, as grandmothers ourselves, to let you know that we hear the amazing things that you are doing and we want to do what we can to help. We can’t come here and do the work that you are doing, but we can work in our own communities, and tell your stories to our neighbours, to our children, to our friends, to our churches, and to everyone at home. I feel moved in my heart to listen to what you have to say, to hear your singing and rejoicing. Thank you for sharing with us.”

  • H.Carol Schmidt

    Wonderful, wonderful and so so inspiring.I was at a fundraising event done by the ‘other’ Granny group in Kitchener, MamaKubwas. It was an African evening and a great success. I kept thinking of all the Grandmothers gathered in Swaziland. We may be oceans apart but our hearts are linked.
    With much love,
    Carol Schmidt
    Omas Skiskona(Grandmothers Together) of Kitchener -Waterloo

     
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