By Zama Khumalo
Pic by: Karen Crouch
Margaret Ngcangca is community mother of 13 neglected children at her home in Joza. She is unemployed and volunteered to take care of children who were abandoned due to parental neglect.
Reasons for this range from alcohol abuse on the parents’ part, children being neglected owing to HIV/Aids as well as children being physically abused and left without anyone to support them. “I share with the community and supply to the people,” says Ngcangca. Her home is more commonly known as the Home of Joy, which was established in 1994. Many other children from the community come in and out of her home for food, shelter or protection.
Ngcangca, who was the winner of the Citizen of the Year award in 2008, says, “I am a hard worker and I love these kids because they keep me young.” Most of the children arrived either very sick or badly abused by their parents. Ngcangca has no relatives that support her – she is the only adult in the household. Only six of the 13 children were approved for a government grant, which means Ngcangca has to financially support seven children with her own money. Despite the official limit of six children in her home, Ngcangca says she welcomes any child to her home.
According to Ngcangca, she has worked hard to stabilise the children’s health and put them into formal schooling. Ngcangca also said that she would be troubled if government social workers had to come in and take any of the children away. “We are a family and the children are more than my blood family,” says Ngcangca, highlighting that no one, not even the government social workers, were there when the children were in desperate need of assistance.
Ngcangca has three children of her own, who are all working and help her immensely with financial difficulties. Even though her “foster” children’s families don’t come to visit, she makes it clear that this is her ultimate duty, saying, “this is my ministry, my mission, and I love this job.”
The youngest child she has taken under her care is only a few days old. The mother of the newborn was only 13 years old and could not support her child. Four of the children, ranging from three to 14 years of age, have HIV and are currently on ARV treatments. Ngcangca insists that anyone who would like to help should not hesitate. “Anyone who wants to visit can come, there is no need for an appointment,” says Ngcangca.
Ngcangca manages to get help from Pick ‘n’ Pay and QuickSpar. Recently, New Residence Two at Rhodes has adopted Home of Joy as a community engagement project. Mbali Buthelezi, the community representative, says, “In the past two weeks we have had cake sales in and around campus to raise funds for Home of Joy”.
If anyone is interested in helping Home of Joy in any way, contact 071 303 6305 or visit Home of Joy at 335B Nompundo street, Joza Township.