One Child One Family HHCSA

"Families, not institutions.", registered Not-for-Profit company (K2017489514) / PBO(930073885), working in South Africa to support Gauteng Department of Social Development deinstitutionalise the child protection system.

One Child One Family HHCSA

The story of Nobomi and her little ones

Nobomi is a temporary foster carer in Vosloorus, Johannesburg and encourages people n in her community to become foster parents. We visited her where two of her foster children Qaqamba and Gcobani played together in the backyard. Nobomi shared their story, demonstrating that a loving family is possible for every child. “I grew up in a four-child family. My parents are a huge influence on me and taught us that “You never chase away a person from your home.” 

When Nobomi’s friend fell pregnant at an early age, they welcomed her and the child into their home. Unfortunately, the mother left when the child was four years old and was never found. Nobomi raised Mthobeli as her own child. He is 38 now and supports her with her younger foster children. Qaqamba is her other six-year-old daughter. Nobami met Qaqamba’s biological mother at church. She was 12 years old when they met and would usually come to their home when they needed someone to talk to. Then one day she disappeared. Five years later, she knocked on their door at night with a four-day-old baby. Nobami and her parents helped her care for the baby for five months, then she ran away.   

Nobomi reported her missing to the police. The case was sent to a social worker after six months. Since then, Nobomi has continued caring for Qaqamba. However, it has not been a smooth process. First, she had to file a certificate Form 30, a statutory process that vetts a parent against the Child Protection Register. During this time, Social Workers placed advertisements for the mother or relatives to claim the child. However, 6 years later, no one has come forward. Nobomi faced challenges with the system. She was not offered much support by the government officials who placed the child. They only did check-in visits every two years to renew the foster arrangement.   

 She was not provided access to funds, food, or clothes to care for the child. Nor was she told they were available. That did not matter to her because her family supported her with the resources to care for the child. Then last year, she met Sipokazi, our OCOF HHCSA Social Worker, she says has been such a blessing. “I was so happy to get to know her and am grateful to have her in my life. Everything she touches moves fast.” Sipokazi introduced her to Moses, a government Social Worker in her area.   

Because Nobomi is a cancer patient and no longer works, so she depends on her family for support. Her family told her “We know you love children, do it, you have our full support.” Nobomi went with Moses to meet the children at the Child and Youth Care Centre (institution). She was introduced to Ayabonga (aged 6) and Gcobani (aged 4). When the children arrived, they had no food, clothes and birth certificates. With the help of Sipokazi, Nobomi got support and had a proper relationship with Social Workers. Nobomi began receiving 450 Rand a month in child support in 2021. This helped provide healthy food, clothes, and books and pay for the children’s transport to the right school.    

At first, Gcobani hated closed doors and would always scream. As a result, he sat quietly for hours without playing or asking for anything. He would not tell Nobomi if he was hungry and looked scared for many months. However, that has changed. He is now free to play, very vocal and cannot wait to go to school. His older brother Ayabonga was more confident. He is currently in grade R. Nobomi was unable to attain Ayabonga’s birth certificate, so he has no South African identity. The two children cannot use the same surname, so teachers can treat them differently. Teachers will not protect the child or report issues because it involves extra work. He is called “a social worker child” by teachers.   

OCOF HHCSA’s recent site visit to Nobomi’s home      

On OCOF HHC SA’s recent site visit, Nobomi and her family welcomed us with warmth. She talked about some of the challenges she encountered at the beginning of this process. In addition, she outlined how OCOF HHCSA’s Social Worker Sipokazi helped her overcome most of them. She told us how the children’s development had flourished since living with them. They are currently all enrolled in a school near their home. She faced challenges with not having enough money to provide for the children. Due to the high cost of transportation, her family has been an immense help. She expressed her love for children and how it has been a blessing for her to take care of the little ones.  

Support given by OCOF HHCSA – How has OCOF supported this family?   

With the OCOF HHCSA’s in-house developed community prevention and early intervention program Nobomi was supported through the AFS-Khusela prevention model. This includes training her as a Temporary Safety Parent (TSP) and potential foster care parent. Since the children have started living with the family OCOF HHCSA has provided food parcels during the transition. Through the support of Allen and Overy, we provided baby food, diapers, and formula was provided to the family. In addition, the family was assisted with referral to resources within the community such as the Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD Grant) and a Social Worker. OCOF HHCSA has additionally offered psychosocial support to the children to ensure a safe and secure transition from institution to family. We have provided links to ongoing support and counselling from relevant community service providers. The family currently receives a foster care grant of 1100 ZAR per child (x3). Furthermore, OCOF HHCSA offers continuous post-placement support, including quarterly home visits.   

Currently, the family is seeing if the children can fully join the family, so they can all share a name. Nobomi says “It is not a pleasant sight to see children suffer; it tears me apart. But we are a happy family now. Children bring joy to our lives. We have a saying here, Ubuntu meaning “humanity”. It is sometimes translated as “I am because we are” (also “I am because you are”), or “humanity towards others”. This drives us, as a family. What we are doing is the essence of who we are – that is what South Africans do – we take care of each other.”