Partnership with The Philile Foundation means joining hands with individuals who are working to create resilient communities. Nozizwe is one such individual. She has been volunteering at Philile Hillbrow, which is based at The Children’s Memorial Institute, for the past three years. When she married the eldest of thirteen, she chose not to have children of her own, as her mother-in-law needed help raising her husband’s younger siblings. This was her introduction to motherhood and she has remained eager to learn and impart her knowledge.
After mothering her husband’s siblings for many years, Nozizwe began a new and exciting journey. She was introduced to caring for disabled children when one of her “grandchildren” was born with a disability. She took him to The Sunshine Association, a school and training centre for children with disabilities, where she learned about how to care for her grandson. This brought her so much joy that she got more involved and was empowered to care for children with disabilities and train their families in raising them. “Every child has a skill and every child needs to be accommodated,” Nozizwe explained. She joined The Sunshine Association and worked there for seven years, five of which were based at The Children’s Memorial Institute. She also began reaching out to families within her community that were affected by disability. She would invite them to her grandson’s birthday parties to informally observe the children and would offer to help families in need. “Let us see how we can work together, me and you,” Nozizwe would say to the parents.
Nozizwe moved on to work at The Toy Library, also based in The Children’s Memorial Institute. Here, the importance of learning new skills while playing was reinforced for her. “When I play with the kids, I always say to myself, ‘What skill do I want this child to learn? What am I observing while playing with this child? Is she struggling somehow? How can I help?’” Nozizwe explained. She also shared that some of the graduates from Philile Hillbrow would come to The Toy Library after school. This, coupled with knowing Lauren, who ran Philile Hillbrow at the time, was how Nozizwe came to know of the Early Childhood Development centre.
The Toy Library closed after Nozizwe had been there for five years, so she was invited to help at Philile Hillbrow. It didn’t take long to see the
value Nozizwe brought to the team! She is known as the “jack-of-all-trades” at Philile Hillbrow. She helps with everything, from playing with the children, to looking after them when they’re sick and preparing for lunch. Nozizwe calls herself the children’s granny, and a wonderful granny she is!
Despite never having children of her own, Nozizwe has been true to the meaning of her name, “mother of nations”. From children within her family, to children in her community, to children at The Sunshine Association, The Toy Library and now Philile Hillbrow, she has mothered more than one can count, young and old. At the age of 71, she is strong, healthy, wise, gentle and a remarkable woman to partner with.