Life is Not Fair

I have occasionally heard my children say those 3 little words, “It’s not fair.”  I tend to give them the same answer my mom gave me.  “No one ever promised you that life would be fair.”  Recently I have decided to add a little something to my answer.  Life isn’t fair.  But my kids fall FAR on the “fair” side of things.  They have two parents who love each other and love them.  They have a home, good schools, pets, healthy food, clothes, and all the necessary material things they need (despite the fact that Nate thinks an Xbox is a necessity, his parents do not!)

Today was like a slap in the face to the unfairness of this world.  Seed of Hope’s health team went to visit the home of one of the children in our support group.  Sanele* is 14 years old and has been in our support group for a few years now.  Halfway through this year his attendance became sporadic and then he stopped coming altogether.

Sanele and his 19 year old sister, Busi* were orphaned in 2006 when both parents died.  Extended relatives in Bhekulwandle took them in.  Sanele and Busi call them “Gogo” (grandmother) and “mkhulu” (grandfather) as is the Zulu custom, but they are not their real grandparents.

We have been working with Gogo and Mkhulu for the past couple of months trying to help get Sanele back into school, etc.  He had joined a gang and was heading down a very dark path.  The kids had reported to us in the past that their “grandparents” did not support them well and did not provide food or clothes for them, so we were counselling both sides, kids and grandparents.

Last week, for the first time I went into their home, hoping to speak again with the grandparents.  We found Mkhulu.  Usually when we had visited in the past, we just stood outside to talk as the home is very small.  But this time, we insisted on coming inside as we wanted to see the living conditions.

My eyes had to adjust to the darkness of the mud hut as there were no windows.  The room was dark and dingy with a heavy smell of mould, dust, and sweat.  I honestly have no words to describe what I saw.  It is the worst house I have seen in my 7 1/2 years of working in South Africa.  Dirty. Ragged. Cramped. Crowded. There was a couch on either wall that I would NEVER have sat on, even had the Mkhulu offered (which he didn’t.)  The dirtiest, most ragged looking pieces of furniture. Jabu asked where everyone slept.  Mkhulu pointed to the uneven, dirt floor – Sanele and Busi sleep on the floor.  He and his wife take the couches.

We asked to see the second small room of the house.  Mkhulu was not pleased to show us, but agreed.  It was piled HIGH with black garbage bags, dirty blankets, old discarded pillows, and assorted unidentifiable items.  A tiny little pathway weaved through the piles.  The room was unusable because it was so full of what looked like junk to me, but evidently were things that they wanted to keep.

I kept imagining my kids living in a place like this.  These children were placed in this home by a government social worker 8 years ago and have lived in these conditions all this time.  No wonder the kids are looking for love in all the wrong places.  The grandparents are earning social assistance grants for the children and it is completely evident that it is just a means of income for them.  There is no love or care given to these children.  They have nothing to call their own.  I could feel their despair coming over me as I stood in their home.

I remembered my life as a teen-ager.  What would I have done if this was my lot in life?  That self-reflection helped me understand the desperate choices that these 2 young people have made – Sanele to a gang and Busi to men for love.

I see a lot of poverty, but this visit seemed more than I could take.  People can be materially poor, but still rich in other areas – love, compassion, generosity, time, etc.  Not the case with this home.

Within two days we had tracked down an aunt of the kids who was willing to take them in.  Jabu and Buli spent almost 4 hours in the home, talking through everything.  We thought we had found a solution.  We involved the government social workers, as they are the ones who need to do the transferring of foster children.

Yesterday the social workers went to visit the new potential foster mother.  And between the time Jabu and Buli were there until yesterday, something had changed.  She was no longer willing to take the children.  We still do not know what happened.  Why the change of heart….

When Busi found out, she fell on the floor of the Seed of Hope hallway sobbing.  Heart wrenching sobs.  She had felt hope of getting out of a bad situation, and now that hope had been once again stolen from her.

We had no choice but to take the children back to the same home.  When we arrived there, the door was locked.  They were locked out of their home.  This happens often.  I asked them where they will go.  “if it is a nice day, we usually just wait outside for them (Gogo and Mkhulu) to return.”

It broke my heart to leave them there.

Friday morning, Buli and I have an appointment with the aunt to see why she changed her mind and to evaluate if there is anything we can do to facilitate her accepting them and loving them.  We would appreciate prayers for this meeting.  If we don’t find a place for them, Sanele will go to an orphanage.  He is still under the government’s child welfare jurisdiction, as he is 14.  But Busi will most likely go to the streets.  She is now too old to be under their system anymore.  The social workers  admitted to us yesterday that the children should never have been placed in this home.  It is an unfit home.  And the children have suffered tremendously because of it.

I am praying that we are not too late to save these kids from a life of crime and prostitution.

*names changed to protect identity

**home pictured is a typical home in Bhekulwandle – not the home written about

15 Responses to Life is Not Fair
  1. Gerry & Donna Reply

    Ladies – I cannot fathom the heartbreak each of you must be enduring when faced with this untenable situation….to have the lives of the young in your hands and no quick and available response! My heart breaks for each of you along with these two lost children…for all of you are suffering in these circumstances. We will pray for you that somehow God will give each of you the peace you need to endure while you pursue opportunities for these children.
    God bless and comfort you as you carry this heavy burden. Know we love you and carry you in our hearts and prayers as you work through this trial.

    • Michelle Reply

      Hi Gerry and Donna, Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. We are meeting with the aunt in just a few minutes, so praying for a positive outcome.

  2. Paloma Reply

    Life IS so unfair. There are so many things that suck sometimes it really is hard to look past that and see the good. Plus, I don’t live like that…so obviously no one else does right? It’s only when we are forced to see pictures or we know someone that is truly involved that the really crappy parts of life invade our little bubbles. My brother-in-law used to be in the military and although I know what he did until I read Shake Hands With the Devil, I REALLY didn’t know what he did. Why? Because he doesn’t talk about it and I didn’t ask. Nobody REALLY wants to know what is going on in South Africa or anywhere else. Why? Because it invades our bublles. Thankfully there are people like you and Carl (and my Brother-in-Law) who force us to take a good hard look and all our many blessing.

    Someone once asked the question if god only gave you what you thanked him for what would you have? Well at that point in my life I would have had nothing! Now every night before I go to sleep I thank him for the roof over my head, the food in my belly, money in the bank and all our health. Really after reading your blog WHAT ELSE COULD I POSSIBLY NEED!

    I will pray that you are able to help these children and everyone else that God has send you there for!

    Love you.

    • Michelle Reply

      We chatted at supper last night about your question, “what would I have if I only had what I thanked God for?” What a great question! Learning an attitude of gratitude. Thank you for your love and prayers, Paloma!!

  3. Marian Reply

    My prayer goes out to these dear children. May the aunt’s heart be softened to take these precious souls. Thank you ladies for all the heart wrenching work you are doing to make life a bit more fair in this world.
    I miss you my daughter, but when I see this work you are doing I say “OK, Lord, you need her more there. Thank you for her dedication to making life better for those she touches.”

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you for supporting us, Mom… even though it is hard to have your grandchildren on the other side of the world (and me!) :-) Can’t wait to have some great time with you in just a few weeks! Love you!

  4. Trish Pritchard Reply

    I ditto what Gerry and Donna have written. My heart is right with you as I read…yearn deeply for those kids. Your team is awesome, you are literally the hands of Jesus in these circumstances.

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Trish! Our health team is awesome! I agree with you! We are soooo blessed with an amazing staff at SOH. Thank you for supporting and loving us!

  5. Kathy Reply

    When I hear TERRIBLE things like these poor children’s lot in life… I know why God has called you to this work,,, to make a difference in the lives of these precious children… but oh SO heartbreaking! Our prayers are with you and we are so thankful for the difference you are making in so many lives.

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you Kathy. Hope to have really good news after our meeting with the aunt this morning. Much love and thanks for your continued prayers and support!

  6. Jolene Reply

    What can we do to help?

    • Michelle Reply

      Hi sweet Jo, You bless me! Your prayers can move mountains! And I will let you know if we need anything else. Thank you for having such a heart for our work. Love yoU!

  7. Templa Reply

    All men were born equal but some more equal than others it seems, Michelle.

    • Michelle Reply

      Inequality is a man-made curse… God will switch it all around someday! The last will be first and the first last.

  8. Ntokozo Reply

    I’m really touched by this story. Has i was reading it i felt tears in my eyes, what so painful about this to me, is that it”s happening in my own community(Bhekulwandle).

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