The story of a 16-year-old girl from Ngqamakhwe village near Butterworth, who is raising five siblings, a cousin and her son, has touched the hearts of East Londoners.
Pledges to help the struggling family were received this week after the Daily Dispatch reported last week how the teenager had put aside her personal ambitions to raise a family of seven.
The teenager, who cannot be named as she is a minor, dropped out of school in 2013 while doing Grade 6, after she fell pregnant.
Her granny and mother died last year, leaving her with the responsibility of raising the seven children.
About 40 employees from Sanlam Sky Solutions’ East London branch collected money among themselves after reading about the young family’s plight.
Branch manager Marvin Peters said: “We have collected about R1500 to make a small contribution and assist where we can.
“The money will be used to buy groceries that we will present to the teenager and her family,” he said.
“Her situation [is] an example to remind people that some people’s challenges are actually not so bad when compared to what other people are going through.
“To us she is a hero and a good rolemodel – she is an inspiration and someone we can all look up to,” Peters said.
Another Dispatch reader touched by the story, Deborah Brent, said she wanted to make regular donations to the family.
According to the provincial department of social development, the number of known child-headed families in the province had dropped from 61 last year to 31 this year.
Social development spokesman Gcobani Maswana said there were many reasons for the decline including extended families taking responsibility, the older siblings growing up or outside families adopting or fostering the children.
He said once the department was told of child-headed households, interventions were put in place to assist them.
In many cases, social services offered by the department to these families included bereavement and trauma counseling, succession planning and material support such as food parcels, meals and school uniforms. — firstname.lastname@example.org