Coming Home || a day in the life

How a young boy spends his afternoons in the township of Embonisweni

by Phoebe Giffey-Brohaugh

This is the last of a three-part story. If you would like to learn about Njabulo’s days from beginning to end,

read Part 1 here: Getting Ready for School
& Part 2 here: Attending a South African Primary School

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, Njabulo walks from school to the church where the feeding program is located. He usually walks to the program with his group of friends, and each gradually splits off where their house or hangout spot is until Njabulo arrives to the program by himself. He checks in with his mother and changes from his school clothes to his play clothes. 

Njabulo’s mother, Silvia, has been working at the After School Program for 7 years, and he started attending the program when she started as well. When the children are finished eating and have left the yard, and after his mother and the other ladies who lead the program have finished cleaning, they all walk home along the rutted and hilly dirt roads of Embonisweni.

Njabulo stands next to one of the goalie posts at the community soccer field.

On days when Njabulo doesn’t attend the program, he arrives home from school around 2 in the afternoon. He eats a quick snack, and then does chores. Most of the time his job in the house is fetching water. Houses in most communities have very limited access to either clean or running water, so it must be gathered from a communal well for washing clothes, bathing, cleaning house, and drinking. He uses a wheelbarrow and 20L (5 gallon) buckets to make the trek to the well and back home.

After chores, Njabulo spends time studying and doing homework. Usually this takes about an hour or so. Only until homework is finished, Njabulo is free to play; he usually hops around to different hangout spots with the group of boys he hangs out with. Sometimes he goes to the sports field to play soccer. His favorite position to play is #2, on defense. When the weather is too hot, they sit under the shade of a hut right next to the soccer field and “talk about life.”

Embonisweni is nestled into a small mountain range. The houses and small shops are layered on the hillsides, and the outskirts of the town lead down into ravines and riverbeds. Many of the children spend afternoons here, running around in the bush playing games, imagining and acting out stories, and meandering around. There are beautiful views, lots of trees to climb and sit under for shade, abandoned houses and yards to explore, and even some different fruit trees, like mango or wild fruits, to munch on.

When he shows me and my friend, Mzwandile, the director of uVillage, around to the different hangout spots, no other kids are outside. It’s too hot to be playing in the midday sun. So he takes us out into the bush to show us what just outside of Embon looks like. We walk down a narrow path until we reach the bottom of a ravine, cross an empty riverbed, and up a hill on the other side. This is where many of the children in the community play. You can see the houses of Embon on the hillside, but there is no adult supervision when the kids are playing out here; they are free to imagine and do as they please.

We walk past a watering hole where the cows get herded to every week to get washed. Njabulo starts giggling when he points it out. He explains that once his father came down here with their two dogs, Rex and Stompie. Apparently Stompie jumped into the water even though he couldn’t swim, and Njabulo’s father had to jump into the water to rescue him. It sounds like Stompie is the not-so-bright one.

Njabulo walking down into the ravine. The mountain in the background is called Legogote Mountain, or Lion’s Head.

Once it gets close to 5 pm, Njabulo knows its time to head home for the evening. He comes home to his mom, his father, and his niece, Mbali. If it’s summer, they sit outside until the sun starts setting and it starts to cool down. They eat dinner together and then settle in for the evening.

This series of photos and stories were written to give a behind-the-scenes picture of what life is like for many children in our feeding programs. Since the beginning of this 3-part story, TTH was gearing up for Giving Tuesday (December 3rd), with the goal of raising $10,000 to provide an additional 20,000 meals to children in 2020. We are so thrilled to let you know that we raised enough to provide 24,000 plates of food!!

In one day, we saw people from all over the world take initiative, contribute, and practice generosity to make this happen. Thank you. Your contributions launched us past our expectations of $10,000. This dream and these programs are so much larger than simply giving food to hungry kids. That’s just the significant start to a lot of big changes. We are grateful for the progress and partnership so far, and we are excited to see what will be next.

If you would still like to contribute to the programs, click here:

If you would like to get involved in other projects TTH is doing, find more info here:

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