"Mrs Sibheko gave me the 75 Cents. These were my daily wages. My hands and back were sore from cutting sugar cane and I had no choice but cope with it. I had to hurry up as the sun was about to go down. I had 40 minutes to walk home but I still had to get a school uniform for Luke. The Mthethwa family lives next to the Nyoni river and I still want to see them. The youngest daughter had grown a lot. Maybe I get her school uniform for a few Rand. I could do things for them instead of paying money for it. Things have become quite difficult since my husband died. We never had lots of money, but now I often don't know how to feed my six children at all. I have no choice. I must get a uniform. If the children do not go to school they will no chance at all. It is already dark when I come home with a uniform in my hand. There are seven of us living in a small Zulu hut. The children had already prepared everything to go to bed. Luke is happy and dances excitedly: I'll go to school, I'll go to school ...
I blow the candle out and we try to sleep. Tomorrow I will have to get some maize. We have no food at home.
Well, that's how it was in the early eighties", the old lady beams at me, "that was our life - and I made it - for all six of us! All went to school. With my Patricia I once thought, that's it! The academic year began and we had nothing. Not a cent in the purse and no uniform! She is our first-born and there were no second hand clothes handed down from older siblings. I earned six Rand per week and had six children to clothe and feed. But the good Lord helped us and Patricia could continue schooling. It was only in the nineties that our circumstances changed. The children had grown up and we still slept, lived and cooked in our old hut. Patricia got work at iSithebe, but she earned little money to bring home. After the political changes I received a small pension and we could build a kitchen with it.
Patricia did not work for long at iSithebe. Thereafter she helped at home for a whole year. The new kitchen made cookimg more affordable for us. Then there was that Sunday when everything started. We helped to distribute the parish newsletter and of course I read what was written there. Father Gerard looked for new staff for his care centre in Mandeni and for his pre-primary school and creche in Whebede. I quickly showed the newsletter to Patricia and told her to call there. We knew the Father. He was our parish priest and we knew that he would help if possible. On the same day my big girl ran to the store and phoned. Mrs. Kalkwarf was there and told her to come to the Care Centre at Mandeni on Monday. So she went there. She wanted to work at the Care Centre but Father Gerard had told her that she was very familiar with the Whebede area and that this area is not far from our home. So she agreed to work at the pre-primary school & creche. First she had to undergo training for two months, but then, deacon, then we had bread! We had bread at home, bread and margarine. There - she points to the kitchen - I had a pot of margarine. We even could buy porridge for the little ones now and again. More than 12 years had passed since my husband had passed away, 12 years, they were so difficult. But now all of a sudden everything was there!
Everything became much easier now. We are so grateful to the Brotherhood, so grateful. All the children could go to school without problems. The brother of my deceased husband had died meanwhile. Because his wife had also died, his five children came to me. We could manage because we had money. When Zanele had matriculated she could do a two year computer course paid by Patricia's wages. In spite of the course she could not find work. That is why she helped her sister in the pre-primary school & crèche as a volunteer. Later she was employed by the "Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard as a staff member. Patricia could finance her brother's driver's licence. Deacon, just look around, see all what we have got, we would not have it if it was not because of our Father Gerard.
A real Zulu homestead has developed. Mother - meanwhile for a long time already granny - Zilkhali lives here together with her six children and her brother's five children and ten grandchildren. But now the children and grandchildren could build a new house for their mother and granny.
The rooms are still empty, but granny shows us proudly her new realm and with glowing eyes she explains what the different rooms are going to be used for.
The brotherhood as a stone which falls into the water, as a German religious hymn says: A stone falls into the water, unseen and quietly. No matter how small it is, it makes far reaching waves. Where God's great love enters a person, there it continues being effective in word and deed into our world.
Patricia's employment and later Zanele's too opened new chances for life for a whole family. They consider this chance a gift and blessing from God and they passed on what they had received.
21 children and gandchildren, the older ones long grown up, live trogether as a family. In a safe environment with school education, regular nutrition and proper housing. The grown up sisters prepare every year more than 40 children for their entry into primary school and doing so lay the foundations for countless families to get a chance as well. Give what you have received yourself and it will bear fruit 30fold, 60fold and 100fold.
Help which spreads like a wave. The Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard could help the Zikhali family because there were people who supported the brotherhood though donations and membership fees. Therefore the Zikhali family could provide new chances for life to their whole family clan and their work is a blessing for the Whebede area. Only God knows how many people's lives were saved by this and how many people's way of life was positively influenced by this.
May our heavenly father richly reward everybody for the good they have initiated and done.
Deacon Thomas Müller after visiting the Zikhali family in November 2007
This page is part of the Newsletter No. 27 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard
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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:49:59