News24, 19 November 2002, Teen family going it alone

Cape Town - Two years after their mother died of Aids, the Nomphondo children from Greenpoint in Khayelitsha are fending for themselves.

When Die Burger visited them last week, the children - Vuyolwethu (10), Ziyanda (13), Babalwa (14) and Yonela (17) - had just arrived home from school in shabby school uniforms, and were sitting in front of an ancient television set.

The head of the Nonceba counselling centre for abused children, Nocawe Makayi, burst into tears when she spoke of the orphaned children whom she helped to look after. The centre is the only one of its kind in this squatter neighbourhood.

"Their mother died in October 2000 after coming to the centre for help.

"She was open about her Aids status, but we were unable to help her, as her health had already deteriorated," she said.

She said an uncle had been looking after the children, but there had been problems.

Outside their one-roomed house, Vuyolwethu was working on a broken bicycle.

Came from Umtata

The children's attempts to sell their house to pay for the funeral of their mother, Nosiphiwe Nomphondo (40), were stopped when benefactors decided to support them financially.

The Nomphondo family arrived in the Peninsula from Umtata in the Eastern Cape two years ago, without their father.

Yonela haltingly tried to explain how they lived.

"We get food and clothes from people now and then. We do our schoolwork. My two sisters and I cook, clean and wash the dishes," he said bashfully.

"During fights between the two girls, little brother has to intervene," said Vuyolwethu when he had fixed the front wheel of his bicycle as best he could.

Despite their circumstances, they still make jokes and go to church under the watchful eye of big brother Yonela. All the children have passed at school in the past two years.

Xoliswa Sibayi, deputy principal of Emithini Primary School which three of the children attend, said they were progressing well academically.

The adolescent family does not have plans for Christmas; they just want to bring home good report cards.