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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meet Siyabulela Makhamba



Siyabulela (a Xhosa expression loosely translated as Thank You) joined Restoring Hope Village on August 24, 2011.  The day he arrived can be described as "one of those days".  Just the day before we had received our first older boy, which officially opened the second house at Restoring Hope Village.  Whenever a new child arrives things are a bit busier, as they typically come with only the clothes on their backs, and often that isn't suitable for anything other than a dumpster.  So typically Amber and Lois will fit them for play clothes, church clothes, school uniforms, shoes, and all the necessary school and living supplies.  Lois arranges all the necessary paperwork and court dates with the social worker.  I arrange with the school to get the child pre-tested and enrolled.  And Brian pretty much does everything that needs doing.

In addition to the normal things that need to be done with every new child there were extra things that needed to be done, since now the new house was opening.  There was extra shopping, a few odds and ends that needed to be bought for the house, and the job of settling a new housemother with the new children.  Oh, and the Niehoffs had left for their long-scheduled vacation early that morning.  That's why it was "one of those days".

Unaware that Siyabulela would be coming, Amber and I decided to use the day to revamp our weekly shopping procedure.  Up to this point we'd been asking Mama Lizzar to make a list of anything she needed, then we would purchase whatever was reasonable and within the budget.  In order to keep things relatively equal, as well as teach the housemothers and children to manage a budget, we decided that we'll give them a certain weekly amount to spend and a list of prices for common items.  They then must make their grocery list making sure to stay under the budgeted amount.  This will also help them manage "luxury" items better so the children learn to save in one area and be able to have money for others.

We were in the middle of this when Lois calls to tell us the head of Social Development will be contacting us about another child.  This prompted a trip to The Village so Mama Melita could help speak with the social worker and make sure there were fewer lapses in communication.  And here is where we learned that we would be springing Siyabulela from jail...no kidding.

Siyabulela's mother passed away in February this year.  Since that time he's been living in Klerksdorp (2 hours away) with his grandmother.  About a week ago she was admitted to the hospital with some kind of serious illness.  We're not sure what exactly, but the social worker made it seem unlikely that she would be taking care of Siyabulela again.  Three days before he came to live at The Village he was transferred from his grandmother's care back to living with his father, or at least the man most recently living with his mother.  The same day he arrived back in Welkom with his father, the man was arrested for an alleged rape.  So Siyabulela spent 2 days in jail, one of those days being his second birthday.

Due to the circumstances, Mama Melita went directly to the courthouse where they retrieved Siyabulela and took him directly to the magistrate.  Normally it will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to have that initial court hearing.  But since this was a unique case and since all interested parties were already at the courthouse they processed the paperwork immediately to place Siyabulela with The Village in Place of Safety care.  Place of Safety is temporary, by law lasting no more than 6 months.  Within that time a decision must be made whether the original circumstances have improved to the point that the child can be returned, or whether the child must be permanently removed and placed into Foster Care.

So it seems that we will have Siyabulela for the near future, and according to the social worker, due to the health of the grandmother and charges against the father, highly possible that he will need to be placed with us in Foster Care.

He took to life at The Village immediately.  Within the first hour he was pulling Drake into his little games and sharing toys with him.  He's quite a talker and is already picking up some English words.  We have learned that if you don't keep a good enough eye on him he will go outside and pull the drain pipes out of the wall.  Whether he stays with us or goes back to live with some other extended family, we're happy to have him and pray that whatever time he has with us will have an eternal impact.








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