We first met Mthokozisi and his younger sisters in 2008. He was 14 years old and should have been in 8th grade. He and his sisters were living by themselves on a small section of land that their father had claimed. They were living in a small mud shack with a thatched roof that their father had built. The father was gone working on different jobs. When he would come home he didn’t buy enough food for them and couldn’t afford to pay school or medical fees or buy uniforms or school supplies. Mthokozisi’s father ran off the mother and wouldn’t allow her near them. Mthokozisi finished 7th grade at the top of his class.
About a year after meeting Mthokozisi and his sisters, the mud shack collapsed in heavy rain. We started working with the school authorities, the church, the area chief and even the police was called in a few times. It took a year to get the father and his parents to agree to let the children and their mother move into a house on the grandparents homestead. By Swazi custom and law, Mthokozisi has a right to live on that property because he is the first born son.
In 2010, the church and One Child moved the kids to the grandparents homestead. The grandfather formally marked the spot where he wanted Mthokozisi’s house was to be built. I got pictures of it documenting the event. More negotiations ensued and the church, with our assistance, built a home for Mthokozisi and his sister. The Church also started assisting Mthokozisi with his school fees. In 2011, the house was dedicated and blessed by the church with the family, the Chief, and other dignitaries in attendance.
We no longer officially support Mthokozisi because the church is doing so. However, we continue to give him moral and emotional support. We also occasionally supply something he needs for school because we are there. From time to time there continue to be issues with the father and the homestead which we (meaning Thoko) help resolve.
Mthokozisi finished grade 12 in December, 2014. And in January, 2015 he got a job at a small store in the town near where he leaves. He took me to meet his boss when I was there in April. She told me he is a very hard worker and very honest. She was pleased to have him working for her. In August he started a two year bookkeeping/finance course at a new Trade School from South Africa. He is doing quite well. Occasionally he sends me a e-mail or text message which is so awesome. We are so proud of our son. He will always be our beloved “first” son.