Motshidisi (meaning “Road” in Sesotho) came to us in November 2006. Prior to that she had been living in a small tin shack with her granny, siblings and cousins, and occasionally an aunt. The granny was HIV+ and in no physical condition to care for the 6 children. All six were orphans, as their mothers had died and their fathers were either dead, unable to be located, or unknown.
We found out about their situation through a sister organization, Morningstar. Morningstar is a daycare for poverty stricken, HIV+ children. They had been caring for two of Motshidisi’s cousins. When we initially discovered what was happening we were unable to take the children, as the government had not yet approved our license as a children’s home.
While we couldn’t take them full time, the missionaries at The Pines still wanted to do everything they could to help. Each Saturday and Sunday morning they would pick up the children to spend the day here, returning them at night to sleep with their granny. This went on for a couple months as we worked to obtain the necessary approval to properly care for these kids.
In early November the situation began to get desperate. The granny was unable to even get out of bed, so Motshidisi was often forced to care for all of the children. At this point she was only 12 years old. One Wednesday evening it rained heavily, causing some minor flooding in the area. We wanted to be sure the children were ok, so on Thursday morning we drove out to their township to check.
When we arrived we discovered they hadn’t eaten since we had left them on Sunday. They had run out of electricity and couldn’t cook anything. Even if they had been able to cook, there was only about 2 cups of corn meal in the bottom of a coffee can, so it wouldn’t have gone far. We took them into town and bought a couple months worth of electricity. Then we purchased some food-bread, potatoes, peanut butter, etc… so they would have proper nourishment.
On Saturday morning we returned to pick them up and found out they again hadn’t eaten since we left on Thursday. This time it was a different reason. Their aunt, who is a prostitute, had returned back to the shack due to the weather. When she discovered there was food in the house she told the children that if she caught any of them eating it, she would poison them. Of course, coming from the environment and background they were in, they had to believe she was telling the truth.
After we found out some of these issues, the process of legally obtaining rights to care for the children was kicked into high gear. Several alternative methods were discussed to expedite removal of the children from that home. Finally, about 10 days later the government took the children out and placed them with The Pines on a temporary basis. Here in South Africa they call it Place of Safety. This is when they determine living conditions are hazardous or threatening to the welfare of the child.
Motshidisi and the other 5 children in her family have all been transferred from Place of Safety status to Foster Care status. In South Africa, the Foster Care status is typically permanent, unless the parents are alive and are later deemed able to again care for the children. You can imagine how often this happens.
Her granny, it seems, intentionally beat Motshidisi down psychologically, apparently intending to destroy her self-confidence and keep her dependent. That way the granny would always have someone there to care for her and she would ensure that Motshidisi never had the desire to leave home and make something of herself.
When she came to live here she was significantly behind in school. When she first arrived she continued to struggle with confidence and motivation. This affected her schoolwork as well. However, in the past 2 years we have seen tremendous growth, especially in the past 6 months. While she frequently has to work harder than the other children, she has been diligent in her work and last school term made Honor Roll for the first time. This term she is again on track to attain that goal.
Motshidisi has also shown great spiritual growth. She knows that Jesus Christ died to pay for her sins, and she has professed faith in Him. We trust that as she continues to be nurtured here at The Pines that the Holy Spirit will do a mighty work in and through her life. Already, as she attends church and bible study here at The Pines her knowledge continues to increase. We pray that her love for God would do so as well.