Opening one’s arms, heart, and home to a child who is not yours is a powerful act of love and empathy. It provides the child with the opportunity to experience the warmth and security of a family environment. For certain people, becoming a foster parent has proven to be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Health For Mzansi caught up with foster mothers from the organisation Wathint’abafazi, Wathint’imbokodo in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. They share their experiences of heartache and fulfillment of being a mother to children in need of love and protection.
Nosipho Kibido from Town-two in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, is currently fostering six children. She tells Health for Mzansi that foster care presents various challenges, such as assisting children in adapting to their new environment, addressing their intricate needs and emotions, and managing their difficult behaviour.
It’s not all glitz and glam
For over 12 years, she has been providing foster care for children. Upon learning about fostering a child, she decided to attend the training provided by the Umtha-Welanga organisation in Khayelitsha.
During the training session, it was communicated that the department of social development (DSD) is seeking foster parents to care for vulnerable, abandoned, sick, and homeless children.
According to Kibido, challenges arise when dealing with children who exhibit varying behaviours, suffer from different illnesses, and possess diverse attitudes.
“Some of these children may try to make you feel like you are a bad mother. Some people will call you names, but we were educated to remain cool in those situations.”
‘It is fulfilling to spread love where it is needed’
Nosango Jack from Makhaza in Khayelitsha, says that she has experienced a range of emotions since she began fostering children in her home. Her fostering journey started in 2017.
She says that legally, they are authorised to provide foster care for a duration of three and nine months of age. However, there are situations where they keep these children until they become theirs.
“Making children understand that all family circumstances are different, is difficult. When I enforce discipline, I demonstrate through my own behaviour that it is not about them, but for every child in the household to learn how to conduct themselves appropriately,” she says.
Jack believes that the nutritional and financial support provided to foster mothers when children have been placed in them is minimal. She observes that sometimes they come without clothing.
If a foster child gets sick or dies, the foster parents are responsible for taking care of the burial themselves, Jack explains. These challenges can be difficult and cause emotional problems for some people.
‘Social development is failing us’
Wathint’abafazi, Wathint’imbokodo was established in 2020 by three mothers: Nosipho Kibido, Nosango Jack, and Ndileka Mabusela. The mission of the movement was to collectively address the challenges faced by foster mothers from social development.
Lindiwe Falake is a newly established foster mother in Khayelitsha. She believes that providing a home for a child is a rewarding experience.
All these foster mothers feel that since forming the movement, not much has changed. They believe that the DSD is neglecting these children without proper care.
The safety of children must be ensured at all costs
Falake suggests that proper care for these children should involve ensuring that they have identity documents, which would make it easier for them to attend school.
Kibido adds that providing supporting grants to these children is challenging due to the absence of supporting documents.
Kibido also says that in some cases these children continue to live with them until they reach adulthood. For instance, Kibido currently lives with a 23-year-old child who was brought into their home as an infant.
She emphasises the importance of being mentally fit when taking on the responsibility of a child, as the child you take in may become a permanent part of your life due to unforeseen circumstances.
Wathint’abafazi, Wathint’imbokodo now has over one hundred foster mothers in the Cape Metro.
Get the Health For Mzansi newsletter: Your bi-weekly dose of kasi health, wellness and self-care inspiration.