GUARDIAN OF HOPE: A GRANDMOTHER’S LOVE AND RESILIENCE

Gogo Manciya expressed her deep gratitude towards the doctors at Baragwanath Hospital and the social workers who have supported her. "If it was not for them, our situation would be much worse," she said. Despite the personal sacrifices, including limited time to visit friends or engage in other activities, Gogo Manciya finds joy and purpose in caring for her grandchild.
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  • In Nomzamo Park, Soweto, 74-year-old Gogo Vuyiswa Manciya embodies the enduring spirit of caregiving as she has cared for her disabled grandson, Luzuko, for over two decades. Abandoned by his parents due to his disability, Luzuko has faced immense challenges, but through Gogo Manciya’s steadfast dedication, he has found a lifeline.
  • Gogo Manciya’s journey has been fraught with difficulties, living on a pension grant and facing challenges such as the theft of social grants meant for Luzuko’s care. Her resilience and the coordinated efforts of various government departments have enabled her to navigate these obstacles, most recently securing a new SASSA card after hers was swallowed by an ATM.
  • The visit to Gogo Manciya’s home, part of an engagement ahead of the 30 Years of International Day of Families commemoration, highlights the realities faced by approximately 5.6 million older persons in South Africa. Despite financial and physical limitations, these older persons often become primary caregivers to orphaned or neglected grandchildren, showcasing the vital need for ongoing support and the powerful bond of familial love and resilience.

By Precious Mupenzi

In the heart of Nomzamo Park in Soweto, Gogo Vuyiswa Manciya, a 74-year-old pensioner, represents the enduring spirit of caregiving and unconditional love. For over two decades, Gogo Manciya has been the sole guardian of her disabled grandchild, Luzuko, who is now 21. Abandoned by his parents at a police station when he was just 18 months old due to his disability, Luzuko has faced immense challenges. Yet, it is through the steadfast dedication of his grandmother that he has found a lifeline.

Gogo Manciya’s journey has been fraught with difficulties. Living on a pension grant, she has weathered many storms to provide for Luzuko. Their struggles were compounded when Luzuko’s mother escaped with the SASSA card, leaving Gogo Manciya unable to access social grants meant for Luzuko’s care. It was only through the coordinated efforts of the Department of Social Development, the Department of Health, the South African Police Services (SAPS), and the Department of Justice that Gogo Manciya received the assistance she needed.

Recently, Gogo Manciya faced another problem when her SASSA card was swallowed by an ATM machine. Not being Luzuko’s formal guardian complicated the process of getting a new card. Fortunately, a dedicated social worker stepped in, gathering the necessary documents for the guardianship application. Through the seamless collaboration between various government departments, Gogo Manciya was finally able to secure the new card.

Reflecting on her journey, Gogo Manciya recalls a particularly traumatic experience. Luzuko had been placed in a care home, but upon visiting, she found him in a terrible state, severely ill. Distraught and fearing for his life, she immediately took him to Baragwanath Hospital. The doctors were appalled by his condition, and Gogo Manciya begged them not to report the neglect, fearing for her life as she lived alone. Her plea was heard, and subsequent investigations led to the closure of the facility.

Today, there are plans to move Luzuko to a mental health institution as Gogo Manciya, due to her age, struggles to care for him. The Department of Social Development is arranging counselling for Gogo Manciya to prepare her for this transition. A social worker explained that Luzuko’s condition requires him to be placed on the floor for safety, and he needs a specially designed wheelchair with belts for support. In the meantime, home-based care and respite care services are being organised to relieve Gogo.

The visit to Gogo Manciya’s home was part of a sideline engagement held yesterday ahead of the 30 Years of International Day of Families commemoration in Orlando East Community. This visit highlighted the realities faced by approximately 5.6 million older persons in South Africa, who, despite not being economically active, often remain the main breadwinners through their grants. These older persons frequently become second-time parents to orphaned or neglected grandchildren, making their social grants crucial for many households. Despite their financial and physical limitations, which often include age-related health conditions, they continue to care for their grandchildren with love and dedication.

Gogo Manciya expressed her deep gratitude towards the doctors at Baragwanath Hospital and the social workers who have supported her. “If it was not for them, our situation would be much worse,” she said. Despite the personal sacrifices, including limited time to visit friends or engage in other activities, Gogo Manciya finds joy and purpose in caring for her grandchild.

The story of Gogo Vuyiswa Manciya and Luzuko is one of resilience, love, and the unwavering human spirit. It reflects a broader narrative seen in many corners of our communities, villages, and towns, highlighting the plight of older persons and the vital support they need. As Luzuko awaits placement in a suitable home, Gogo Manciya’s strength and devotion stand as powerful evidence of the enduring bond between a grandmother and her grandchild.

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