December 10, 2015

Yesterday I met Gugulethu Mashaba (Gugu). Less than two weeks ago she buried her 5 year old brother, Melusi.  You see, Gugu, is a double orphan and at the age of just 24 finds herself the head of a family of 11. Once a grade A student and with dreams of becoming a nurse, Gugu is now mother to 7 younger siblings and 4 children.
Gugu and her siblings lost their father in 2006 and tragically their mother and Gogo in 2011 on the same day. Their Gogo took a massive heart attack on hearing the news of her daughters death. They are both buried side by side along with Melusi and his younger brother.
I spent some time with Gugu at the family homestead yesterday before we traveled to the graveyard to place a cross on Melusi’s grave. Gugu showed me around their home which consisted of a kitchen area and two bed rooms, one for boys and one for girls. A nicer woman you couldn’t wish to meet. The sad thing is that she is a woman way beyond her years. The tone of her voice and the look in her eyes is not that of a 24 year old woman. She is a true inspiration and even facing all this hardship she still dreams of finishing high-school and continuing on to get her nursing degree.
I asked a friend of the family how come Gugu had four kids by the age of 24, she said, “she tried so hard to find someone to help her” meaning that men had promised to build a family with her but had run a mile once reality set in. Us men have a lot to answer for here in Swaziland.

Dec. 10 2015

Aidan O'Neill