When my mother abandoned my brother and I, I was left with no hope. She left us at a very young age in the streets of Johannesburg. It was just he and I now. Even the landlord was fed up with feeding us. We slept on the streets; ate out of dustbins. But God sent a woman from the neighbourhood to save us.

She took us into her home and fed us. We used to watch other children going to school or church, but we couldn’t go because we had no documents. We stayed with this woman for a while. And when she was too tired to care for us any longer, she took us to another town in Johannesburg where she left us at the social workers’ offices. We watched her leave and began to cry. We knew that this was it; we would never see her again.

Later that day, a police van dropped us off at the house of Gogo Modi. She brought us up, loved us like her own. She cared for two other orphans like us, and only one was ever taken back by her parents. Gogo Modi also had a large family: a daughter, a son, and two grandsons. Living with them was like a dream come true. From 1994 to 1999, a sangoma grandmother loved us, raised us and cared for us. In 1999, she took my brother and I and the other orphan boy, our brother, to her mother’s house in Cradock in the eastern cape. We lived there until 2000 when she died.

Another grandmother, Gogo Modi’s cousin, came and took us then. She took care of us without getting a single penny from the government. And when she started complaining about the situation, God intervened.

Someone came and told us that there was a woman on the radio looking for us. We told the social worker and they did their research into the woman’s claim. They said that this woman was our grandmother, our real grandmother, our mother’s mother. So we went to Zwelitsha to see her. Upon seeing her, my brother remembered her. We then went back to Cradock to collect our belongings so that we could start our new life at our real home.

We stayed with her for a long time. She taught us how to pray and she taught us to trust in God. She taught us not to trust too much in anyone on this earth. But she was there for me when I became pregnant with my first child. She was also there when I gave birth to my second child. She taught me to forgive and to love. And when she died this year in January I didn’t worry, because she had done everything in her power to make me the person I am today. I thank God for knowing her. I am now independent. I can survive anything, without fear, because of a grandmother’s love.


Tell us: Who can you attribute your character to? Who has moulded you into person you are today?