Johannesburg - Nonkululeko Malaza can’t sleep. She has already packed her bags - even though she is only leaving Carolina, hopefully for good - on Wednesday. For the 22-year-old and her small family, a new cherished life awaits.
Malaza lives with her 4-year-old daughter, Luthando, and younger sister, Sindusile, in a crumbling mud hut in Silobela, a township on the forgotten fringes of the Mpumalanga town, where they struggle to survive on a meagre R350 monthly child grant.
But next week, Malaza, who was forced to drop out of school at 13, and her daughter will put their desperation behind them: she will begin training for a new job as a receptionist for the Premier Hotel OR Tambo. But first, she and her daughter will stay for several days, free of charge, in a luxurious room at the hotel.
This has been organised by Rick and Wendy Beltramo, of Randburg, who, along with other individuals and readers such as Kayroon Karrim and Lilian Isaacs, were moved by the family’s plight, captured in a story in the Saturday Star earlier this month, and opened their hearts and wallets to help.
On Monday, as South Africa marked Human Rights Day, the Beltramos drove to Carolina, their vehicle packed with an “abundance of clothes, food, toiletries and medicine” and locks to keep the thieves out. These were also thanks to donations from companies such as Dell and Turn ‘* Tender.
“When we listened to some of Nonkululeko’s life story, we understood how her human rights have been so trampled and yet we were so humbled by her strength and humility as she strives to improve her life and the lives of her daughter and young sister,” said Beltramo.
“Living in a mud home with a corrugated roof, an empty fridge and kitchen cupboards, it was amazing how as we offloaded the gifts and donations that her kitchen began to fill up and the tears flowed. Her daughter is so precious and had a smile that opened our hearts. Whenever mom got emotional, we heard her little voice break out in song just to comfort her.”
When he phoned Malaza this week, to tell her of the job and hotel stay that the Premier & Resorts group had organised for her, her response left him deeply humbled.
“She told me I must make a list of everything we’ve done for her because she wants to pay us back. I told her that is nonsense, she is in a crisis and we are helping her.”
The Beltramos have organised that, next week, a registered organisation in Benoni will welcome Malaza and her daughter into safe house “until she finds her feet”.
Malaza can’t believe how her life has changed: “I’m feeling so proud, so happy,” she said, this week. “I can’t sleep. I can’t wait. I was ready to give up. I thought God doesn’t love us. Now I know God always waits for the right time.”
Her 17-year-old sister would arrive in Joburg in December, after she had finished matric. “I’m going to send her money to come visit us,” Malaza said.
Rick, who has been involved in outreach work for the past 15 years, said: “So many people don't follow through. I promise you, it’s the easiest thing to dump a gift at someone’s door. But now this young mother is going to be supported, and her child is going to be, too. I definitely see a bright future for them.”