Nontembiso (meaning “Promise” in Xhosa) came to us in February 2007. Of all our children she has seen the most instability in her young life. Due to the illness of her parents she was temporarily placed with House of Hope, an organization that cares for infants on a temporary basis.
After her mother and father died, she lived at House of Hope for a time until she was taken in by an aunt in another city about 1 hour away. She lived with this aunt until it was learned she was being physically abused by her. While it seems odd that an aunt would voluntarily take her in only to then abuse her, it must be understood that here in South Africa it is not uncommon for children to be fostered by people who don’t love them. Children in Foster Care status are eligible for a small monthly grant from the government, and frequently people will take in multiple children just to obtain the grant for themselves. It seems this may have been the case with Tembi.
Once it was learned that her aunt was abusing her she was removed from the home and placed again at House of Hope for a short time. She was then placed in Foster Care with a good mother, but the new mother soon learned that she was not in a position to care for Tembi and she came to House of Hope for the third time. This time she was placed with another foster mother, but it wasn’t long before that mother passed away, and Tembi returned to House of Hope.
Finally, she was referred to The Pines through Morningstar, a sister organization with whom we work closely. Morningstar is a Christian Daycare that works with HIV+ children from the poorest backgrounds. Her last two foster mothers had also been associated with Morningstar on a volunteer basis, but it was determined that Tembi needed something more stable.
All our kids come through proper government channels, and Nontembiso is no exception. Initially she came to us on Place of Safety status, meaning we were only granted temporary rights to care for her and raise her. Since that time we have applied for and received Foster Care status, meaning she is likely here until she is grown and able to care for herself on her own. In South Africa once a child is placed in Foster Care, it is highly unlikely they would ever be moved, unless the biological mother is able to take the child back. Since Tembi’s mother is dead, we are confident that she will live with us until the time she becomes independent.
Understandably, Tembi craves individual attention. Because of her past experiences she has had some trouble adjusting to certain aspects of life, but since arriving here at The Pines we have seen her blossom. The mamas here do a wonderful job loving and caring for the kids as if they were their own. One of the things Tembi especially stuggles with is nightmares. Her mama Sylvia will frequently take Tembi into her own room to sleep on the bed or floor, and we have learned that she loses sleep many nights caring for her.
Nontembiso loves the swimming pool and is just learning how to swim on her own now. She is enrolled in pre-school and is preparing to enter grade 1 next term. Frequently, while the older children are doing homework, Tembi will come to the study room and ask if she can color and work on her alphabet. We are excited by the growth we’ve seen in her and anticipate seeing her continue to thrive.
Like all our children, Tembi is learning about God and what Jesus did for her. We pray that as she continues to grow, she would realize that she personally must make the decision to trust Christ. We trust that the Holy Spirit would do a mighty work in and through her life.