A few months ago I met an incredible woman whose story I'd like to share with you.
Imagine being between the ages of 12 and 18. (Maybe you already are, so that part's easy!) Now imagine you are also the oldest member of your household. That's right, living in a home with no parents AND responsible for your younger brothers and sisters. Sounds unimaginable.
But wait. There's more. Your home is a shack. You don't have a toilet or running water. No water, no electricity—You don't have a washing machine. You struggle to go to school but the chores to take care of your sisters and brothers make it difficult to do your homework. That and the dim candle light. This might even be your home in Roddepoort. (Photo courtegy of the Tshepang program.)
That's the way it is for many children in South Africa in the Roodepoort slums. (Roodepoort is a city in South Africa.)
The situation seems hopeless, doesn't it?
In March 2005, in another part of town—a richer one with proper houses—Susan Rammekwa was unhappy with her job. She was a social worker and tired of a job that kept her in the office. She wanted to do more to reach people in need. So she quit her job.
Susan ventured into the slums of Roodepoort to help its children. She set up a place that had water and electricity. She cashed in her pension to buy food for the children. She used her last pay cheque to get a stove. By the end of the first year, more than 80 children were going to Susan's program for a meal, to wash up, and to do their homework. She also taught the children life skills and encouraged them to play games and tell stories.
She named the program Tshepang. That means "Have Hope." Here she is with her children.