News | 15 Jan 2019
Bongeka had a very difficult childhood. Her parents died when she was 3 months old and she lived with her aunt and uncle who abused her. She didn’t have the basic things she needed growing up, like school uniforms and stationery or books. “I had this anger inside me, I hated my parents for dying and leaving me so young. That anger grew inside me for many years”. Through the difficulties Bongeka somehow managed to do well at school and pass her Grade 12.
At 22 she moved to East London and had a baby while working as a domestic worker. She eventually married the father of her child and escaped her abusive family. “My husband made me angry all the time, I would shout at him and the children and it would just come out of nowhere”. Circles of support has helped her to fight against that anger and feel a sense of belonging. “It is so nice to talk about everything. I thought my problems were difficult but when I heard other people’s stories it inspired me. I decided to deal with the past accordingly because keeping the anger inside me didn’t help.”
“We support each other – we discuss our backgrounds, talk about social life, being a parent and even being a parent to a teenager.”
Bongeka has noticed changes in her eldest daughter since joining the group. She used to go out with friends all day and not come home for food. When Bongeka confronted her and asked why she doesn’t come home her daughter would just keep quiet and cry, she never liked to talk or be involved at home. So Bongeka sat her down and spoke to her about what was bothering her, using the skills she learnt in the group. Now her daughter includes herself in the home and helps her mother in the kitchen and with the cleaning – without Bongeka having to ask. Although her daughter is still quiet Bongeka knows how to deal with her stubbornness and feels she is a good parent thanks to Circles of Support. She learnt the difference between discipline and punishment and communicates all these things with her kids.
Bongeka’s husband was extremely frustrated with her for shouting at him all the time, he didn’t understand why. The group has taught her to communicate with her husband. She explained her upbringing to him and told him what was bothering her. He now understands where all her anger comes from and is trying his best to make her happy. They now have a very happy marriage.
“I want my children to grow up happy because I went to bed crying every day. I want them to be friends with me, to feel free around me. I’ve learnt alot and I don’t want the sessions to end. The group gave me happiness in spirit, emotionally. I was abused and now I’m free. The anger always gave me stress but now I can deal with everything.”
Bongeka pays it forward wherever she can. She doesn’t want to see any child suffer and is always looking out for the kids in the community, helping them with food and clothing. She feels the group gave her the strength to support others and wants to help all children who struggle.
NACOSA has partnered with Synergos since July 2014 on integrating social connectedness in its orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) programmes. One of the programmes run by NACOSA, through its partner Yabonga, are Circles of Support where care workers are capacitated to run support groups for caregivers of OVC.