Masedi Phungwako, the second oldest of four siblings, was only three years old when her mother passed away and 12 years old when she lost her dad, too. The Phungwako children are but four out of the approximately 5.2 million orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa.

In general, the prospects for such children in terms of access to proper schooling, housing, and basic necessities like food and clothes are bleak. Many children don’t complete matric and for many of them, the poverty cycle will never be broken. Many of these children end up living with aunts or grandmothers who then fulfill the motherly role.

Before Masedi’s aunt Martha took it upon herself to foster her and her siblings, the Phungwako children were living in a mokuku (a shack) with no adult supervision, no running water, electricity, or food. They slept on the floor and had no income as they were all too young to work. For eldest sibling Pretty, this was a difficult time as she carried the full responsibility for her brothers and sisters’ wellbeing.

After hearing about her nephews and nieces’ situation, aunt Martha contacted Mosaic SA which is an organisation that seeks to serve such children and their foster parents by providing them with employment or schooling opportunities, assisting them to find housing, and working with parents.

The organisation was instrumental in the lives of the Phungwakos. Through the Mosaic programmes, the family moved into a house, Martha started a job at Made by Mosaic, and Masedi and her siblings began attending Mosaic after-school programmes. These programmes with their Biblical principles helped Martha with support and resources when she didn’t have any.

Fulfilling dreams

Fast forward many years, and through her family and Mosaic’s love and support, Masedi’s dream of becoming a teacher is being fulfilled – she was accepted for a Diploma in Language Practice at the Tshwane University of Technology.

“I wanted to change the situation at home by being successful and being able to provide for my family,” says Masedi. “Through this, I will also have the opportunity to help children and build into their lives.”

God is on your side, always

Giving up was never an option for Masedi: “Being born in a poor family doesn’t determine your future. God never forgets His children and we simply need to keep talking to Him about everything,” she says. “You always have a choice. Giving up is not the best one.”

Mosaic SA is a partner of the Mergon Foundation. For more, go to www.mosaicsa.org.

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