New home, new hope

Light drizzle rains down over a grateful Western Cape at Ouma Ella Hendriks’ house in Newrest. For Ella and her three great-grandchildren, the heavens have opened too, and thanks to the work of one of Valcare’s partners, Mosaic, they will soon have a brand-new place to call home.

Ella Hendriks Mosaic NGO

Ouma Ella Hendriks.

For the past couple of years, Ouma Ella and her great-grandchildren (aged 7, 6 and 3) have been living in a cramped, wooden backyard dwelling. She apologises as she welcomes us into her humble space. “I have already started packing, so it’s a bit of a shambles”, she explains. The one-room structure is sub-divided by a cupboard in an attempt to lend some privacy to the ‘bedroom’ where all four of them have been sharing two beds. There is no running water or electricity.

In January, the owners of the house that the Hendriks were living in, decided to sell it. They began to pray. They had nowhere else to stay. Today ouma Ella testifies that “God’s timing is never late. We are excited about the move and I cannot wait to be in an environment where my children and I are safe”.

Piecing lives together

On 6 April 2018, Ouma Ella and four other families will be moving into brand-new, brick homes. The new houses each have an open-plan living and kitchen area, three bedrooms and a fully-equipped bathroom.

Mosaic Site Manager, Nozuku Nkila, explains that building houses is, however, only one part of the puzzle when it comes to helping to piece together broken lives. Mosaic envisions a South Africa where every orphaned and vulnerable child (OVC) is loved and cared for within a family setup, supported by the necessary resources and opportunities they need to not only survive – but to thrive.

Mosaic tackles this challenge through a unique approach to OVC care. Working alongside the Department of Social Development, Mosaic identifies families with two or more orphaned or vulnerable children in their care. These children are not institutionalised. The emphasis is on strengthening and equipping the family unit so that they are able to care for the children.

Mosaic NGO houses in Paarl

The five new houses in Paarl that Mosaic is building for families with vulnerable or orphaned children.

Mosaic invests extensively in the growth and development of the parents through, for example, life skills training. Job creation is a key element of the process as this enables parents to take care of their own children. The next step is to give the children access to good schools and after-care programmes where they enjoy homework support, have internet access and have the opportunity to go on outings and gain exposure to a world they would otherwise never have encountered. Talent development programmes, emotional and spiritual support; and finally, a college education all form part of the Mosaic model.

Building a proper three-bedroom, brick house for the families ensures a safe and functioning physical space where boys and girls have their own bedrooms – and the caregiver(s) or parent(s) too can enjoy their privacy and experience ‘time out’ from the challenges of parenting. As Nozuko says, “My belief is that if the mother is okay, or the caregiver is okay, then the kids are okay.”

Nozuko (24) will also be moving into one of the five new houses in April, with five children under her care. “You don’t have to be a certain age to do this. If you hear the voice of God, you do it.”

Moving mountains

Ouma Ella gathers her three great-grandkids together for a photo – like a mother hen and her chicks. Even here in the small structure she will soon bid a farewell, an unexpected sense of peace is almost tangible as the words of a song playing from her television set drift through the tiny space, out of the front door, into the street. “Jesus, He can move the mountains… Our God is mighty to save.”

And this He does – through the hands and the hearts of people like the Mosaic team.

If you would like to get involved with the Mosaic strategy, or help to kit out the houses for the families, get in touch with Valcare at admin@valcare.org.za.