From the Guardian's Hearts...
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Silence filled the room, as the grandma wiped her tears and began to speak. She explained how she used to beg for food in the community, desperate as she had no way to put food on the table, for herself or the children in her care. But now... now.... she knows her grandchildren will not go hungry. Now... she has a family to support her. Now... she has food. "I'm so grateful, so grateful".
We sat around the table as one after another, several selfless guardians (St. John's has several hundred guardians) shared the struggles they have faced and how through it all they have continued to care for the precious children left in their care. Left due to their parents abandoning them, passing away due to AIDs, being killed...they shared about how they had nowhere else to turn for help before St. John's brought them hope. Some of their stories are shared below*...
I was just a child myself, the main guardian of a child-headed home when St. John's started to help me. They gave us food, clothes and even made sure my hair was up to date! When I was old enough they gave me a job. Now I help other's who were like me. Patricia is like a mother to me. I am so grateful!
I remember the first day I came to St. Johns, I had nowhere else to turn that day. I had odd jobs but was mainly unemployed, trying to look after my grandsons, who were always in trouble; bunking from school. The lovely ladies at St. John's helped me, not only physically but emotionally too. These beautiful women are patient with me too; they talk to me about food needs but also about life. Now my kids can eat at home. I'm grateful. I'm so grateful.
I am looking after my nephew, who always wants to go to St. John's center. He says "Momma, I want to go and learn drama there", he loves it. I come here too and have learned how to sew. Now I can help my family, my life is easier now. God must bless them.
My two grandchildren are orphans due to AIDs. I look after them, but I am unemployed, I have no grant or pension as I am 59 years old. Now that we get food parcels from St. John's my two kids and I can eat.
I look after my sister's child, my own children and my siblings and mother. It is so lovely to come to St. John's, it has made such a big difference to me. The caregivers are such lovely persons. Now I don't' have to buy mealie meal, and the food parcels feed our family.
I am so happy to be here, My daughter was killed so I look after my grandchildren and also my 97-year-old mother. My home is now a home because I have food from St. Johns. We all benefit from the food parcels.
I would like to thank Tiger Brand with all of my heart. [Tiger Brands is the main sponsor of food at St. Johns] Since 2014, their food parcels have helped me be able to raise my son. He has grown up because of Tiger Brand. Raising a child alone with only part-time work and many times unemployed is very hard. Now, we are not short on food or powder to wash. Nowe we never sleep without food. Now I don't have to ask relatives for food.
I am very grateful for the center. I am taking care of my cousin and now I have no more stress with feeding him lunch because now they get it here. I'm computer literate today because of St John's. As a single parent, the stress of how to feed children and the burden is lighter because of the center! I love the peanut butter and mealie meal we get in the food parcels. We all love the peanut butter! The center helps the children with homework and the care workers come to our house to check on the child. Thank you so much.
The community has changed. I have lived in this community for a long time and it has changed. The kids don't mess around in the streets now. They come here and then go home. The community is happy. The kids are happy.
The center feels like home. We get food parcels every month and they help the children with homework and activities. They give them lunch after school. I'm very pleased.
The caregivers teach us how to have food gardens at home...it is very good. I now grow spinach and the book we got on gardening is easy to use. [Tiger Brand launched its Household and Community Food Garden Initiative in partnership with Food and Trees for Africa and Siyakhana Cooperative. They helped train and start 500 family gardens in the community. Twenty staff members/caregivers now train over 25 families each to continue to spread the knowledge].
*Please note: Stories have been paraphrased, but as much as possible, direct verbiage was used.