As I work for an organisation that works with 780 rural women, I was asked to write a media release on some of our mothers for Mother’s Day. I randomly picked out four artisans to interview: two Gogos (Grandmothers) and two younger women. Even if I tried, I don’t think I could have ended up with four more different, or more humbling, stories. So as I write this, on Mother’s Day, I’d like to say “Thanks” to all the mothers out there, for so graciously keeping humankind afloat. You have my complete admiration.
Maria Dlamini is a gogo from Ntondozi. Her husband passed away in 1982, and she has lost all of her seven sons. Maria has three daughters and seven grandchildren, but says that being a mother in Swaziland is challenging because she doesn’t have a proper house for her family to sleep in and now has trouble ploughing the fields to bring food to the family.
“Gone Rural and Gone Rural boMake has had a big impact in my life because now I can earn money to feed my children, and get help to educate my grandchildren”, she says. “I want to tell women of Swaziland that, as mothers, we look after everybody around us, so it is important to work for yourself so you can sustain those people”.
Fikile Nhlengethwa is a young mother from Encabaneni. She has four children, but the father of two of her children passed away. “Being a mother is a challenge for me, because the father of my other children is not a good father and he doesn’t communicate well, and that is why I haven’t married him”, she says. Fikile says that Gone Rural has made a difference in her life because she can go and buy food. “This creates a different atmosphere at home. We are living and happy at Gone Rural. Those women who aren’t working need to stand up for themselves and make a difference in their lives”.
Cecilia Zwane’s husband is sick with diabetes so he is unable to work. She has lost seven of her 14 children. Cecilia says one of the greatest difficulties is taking care of her Granddaughter, whose father passed away, and who is very sick and HIV positive. “Gone Rural enables me to earn money so I can take her to the hospital, and Gone Rural boMake brought the mobile clinic so I could get medication”, she says. “As mothers, you have problems, but it doesn’t mean you can leave your homestead and abandon your children. You should stay and look after your kids so you can teach them respect, and so they grow up knowing the right way to live”. She asks us to tell the women who are sitting and doing nothing to use their hands to make a difference for their family and the world.
Bongi Motsa is from Mvutjini, and has a husband but no children of her own. She takes care of her 15 year-old niece, and lives with her husband’s family. Bongi says that a challenge of being a mother is not always having money to buy food for the family, but Gone Rural and Gone Rural boMake has helped by enabling her to buy food for her mother’s family, and her husband’s family.
“It also means that I can afford to travel to funerals and homesteads when people I know pass away”, says Bongi. “As a mother you have to work, otherwise it causes problems between you and your husband”. Bongi’s message for the mothers of Swaziland is “Phezukwemkhono! Lokangenteki kubantfu kuyenteka kunkulunkulu” (Roughly translated as “Working Women! What doesn’t happen to people, happens to God”).