Cape Town – At just three years old, Nazeem Kader became an orphan when both of his parents were murdered a week after each other.
Four years after the tragedy, Nazeem's whole world came crashing down when he was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia.
He is receiving treatment from the Red Cross Children's Hospital and has had to repeat Grade 1 this year, at Sunnyside Primary School, after he could not attend school last year due to his illness.
Nazeem is resilient and refuses to give up. He is being cared for by Loetfi Salie, the husband of his legal guardian, Sumaya Salie, who died of cancer two years ago.
After Sumaya's death, Loetfi became his guardian and sees to all of his social and medical needs, despite being a 65-year-old pensioner.
Three weeks ago, with the help of the Kids-Can Cancer Foundation, the family raised R37 000 via a BackaBuddy campaign. In April 2019, Nazeem's father, an alleged Hard Livings gang boss, was shot 17 times after gunmen opened fire on him while he sat inside his BMW in Kenilworth.
His killers were sentenced in 2022. Sadly, just a week after his death, Nazeem's mother, was murdered in Hanover Park.
“My wife fought to gain custody of Nazeem, and two years ago she died while battling cancer,” explained Loetfi.
“He has no one but me. He calls me daddy and wants me to go with him everywhere. I remember the day they shot his mother, my wife and I were laying in bed when we received the news, and I said to myself we were going to contact her after his father's death because we wanted to know how she and Nazeem were.”
Loetfi said just weeks after being enrolled at school, he realised that something was wrong with Nazeem – he had blisters in his mouth and acute nose bleeds.
“He was just two weeks in Grade 1 when they diagnosed him with cancer,” he said.
Nazeem was suffering with pains in his legs, which affected his sleep, and now he has to undergo much testing and treatment.
“It has been tough because he was in and out of hospital last year, and so much so that he did not like the needles and the injections,” explained Loetfi.
“He already knows there are times they will have to perform lumbar punctures. The treatment will continue until he is in his twenties.”
Loetfi, via the BackaBuddy campaign, has managed to raise over R37 000, which the family has yet to receive. Loetfi wants to save the money for when he is no longer here to watch Nazeem.
“Nazeem tells me all the time, ‘please don't die daddy'. I am already 65 and I do not know how long I will still be around, so I want to place money into a trust for him. He still attends the hospital for treatment and there are times when he loses weight or swells up.
“They made a port in his body where the medication can be administered, instead of him seeing and feeling the needles all the time,” he said.
Kaashief Lakay, who is the founder of Kids-Can Cancer Foundation, helps families like that of Nazeem who do not get support.
Lakay, who is a cancer survivor, explained his journey and the need for services and supplies for children and people fighting or dying of cancer.
Via his foundation, stories are shared, bringing hope, peace and encouragement.
“The foundation emerged from my personal battle with cancer in 2020, fuelled by the realisation that little fighters often return home without essential needs like nutritional supplements, proper beds or transportation to crucial medical appointments.
“Our mission extends beyond mere assistance; it's about illuminating their journeys on various platforms to raise awareness.
“By sharing their stories, we hope to unite a community that can collectively ease the burdens these families bear,” said Lakay.
Lakay said their support begins from the day they meet families until the end of that personal journey.
“Our financial assistance serves as a lifeline, alleviating some of the challenges these families face.
“Beyond monetary support, our network connects us with like-minded SMEs and organisations, enabling us to enhance living conditions.
“From securing new beds to brightening up their living spaces with a fresh coat of paint, our commitment is to contribute holistically to the well-being of these families and create an environment where they can focus solely on their little fighters' health,” he added.
Lakay said he was cycling from Cape Town to Botswana in September to commemorate Childhood Cancer Awareness month and to raise R1 million for paediatric cancer.
* If you want to help Nazeem, visit: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/loetfi-salie-5801802012618683462