Grandmothers Care for South Africa’s Forgotten Shantytowns

By Send Relief Staff

In South Africa, informal settlements on the outskirts of major cities form makeshift communities of thousands of unemployed and overlooked families, leaving them both physically and socially on the margins of society.

Lack of proper housing, inadequate access to medical services and barriers to employment plague generations of people living in these shantytowns. Many of the children have been orphaned because of the ongoing HIV and AIDS epidemics, relying on their grandmothers’ pensions and child support for food and schooling.

When a Send Relief partner arrived to assess the living conditions and distribute food, he was shocked by the desperation of many families’ circumstances.

“Many adults are still bedridden, living with HIV or suffering from other illnesses but can’t take their medication because they have no food to eat. Others have had to resort to begging on the streets in their old age or relying on the generosity of neighbors. Some have lost all hope and are just waiting to die.”

One grandmother of three, Duduzile, was struggling to keep her family housed and fed, as she suffers from arthritis and diabetes and has a grandchild with special needs. A heavy storm knocked down part of her house and blew her roof away years ago, but when she had to choose between purchasing food and attempting repairs—she chose to feed her family.

Similarly, Marina is a 67-year-old with asthma and diabetes whose husband recently passed away, leaving her the sole provider for 11 family members. Because she did not have the proper paperwork, Marina wasn’t receiving the pension that many of her peers relied on for their daily food. Going back to work as a “domestic helper,” Marina consulted with the village witch doctors to try and improve her circumstances with no luck.

Busisiwe also was forced to return to work after retirement as a domestic helper, as she was not only caring for her own four children but also her five grandchildren.

Anna was making a living selling scrap metal when COVID lockdowns rendered her job impossible. Fighting diabetes and a persistent heart condition, she was doing her best to provide for her four grandchildren while grieving her late husband’s passing.

Because of your gifts to Send Relief on Global Hunger Sunday, each of these resilient women received a year’s worth of food, and now, have home gardens that regularly sustain their families with fresh fruits and vegetables! The burden this lifts off their shoulders cannot be overstated. After years of scrapping for the bare minimum, they now have food security for the first time in decades.

Even more exciting, Duduzile now has a repaired roof and a sturdy two-room house to keep her and her grandchildren safe and protected from the elements. After our partners helped her obtain the appropriate ID documents and apply for a pension, Marina was able to extend her house as well and started a small business selling her vegetables and fruits to local schools to supplement her income. Busisiwe saved enough money to build a house for her family and is now attending church and Bible studies regularly, and Anna committed her life to Christ and started a vegetable stand to make a sustainable living.

And these are just a few of the hard-working grandmothers that you helped survive and provide for their grandchildren! In all, your gifts to Send Relief hunger projects helped nearly 200 residents of South African slums through this project.

If you would like to help even more families in need fight food insecurity, give to Send Relief to fight hunger now.

Help communities on the brink of starvation!

Donate today.


Published July 10, 2023

Send Relief Staff