64 year-old, Friedah Dlamini lives in Molweni with her four grandchildren aged 8,10, 13 and 18. She has been a member of her local gogo support group for over ten years and says together, they have overcome many challenges. Called the “Gcinisthembiso” group, which roughly translates in isiZulu to “stick to your plan”, Friedah and her fellow gogos have offered each other strength and comfort through many a hardship, including the loss of one of Friedah’s three children, who passed away six years ago.
In mid-August 2018, Friedah was one of 20 local gogos selected to participate in HACT’s 6-week Parenting Skills and Children’s Rights training courses which was funded by HACT’s 2018 Comrades Marathon campaign. As one of five participants selected from gogo support groups located in Molweni, Friedah was grateful for the opportunity to get some help in improving her relationship with her grandchildren, which by her own admission, was suffering as a result of her short temper.
Six short weeks after Friedah enrolled on the course and she says she has learnt a lot about herself, where she’s been going wrong in terms of communicating with her grandchildren and most importantly, practical steps she can take to build a happier home for everyone, including herself.
“I used to shout a lot at the children,” admits Friedah “now, if they do something wrong, I don’t shout and call them horrible names, I go lie down on my bed and then later, I talk to them.”
Friedah says the course has also taught her about children’s rights – the right to go to school, to eat and most importantly, to be loved and respected. However, as a gogo, Friedah also has rights, like the right to be respected and not taken for granted by her family or community;
“As gogos we should receive respect, but we have to earn that respect. We cannot expect our grandchildren to learn good manners if we are always calling them horrible names like paras...” (Zulu phrase for street children).
Friedah says the course has definitely helped to improve her communication and relationship with her four grandchildren and she has already recommended it to several of the gogos in her support group who are experiencing similar problems with their grandchildren. "I've learnt to tell my grandchildren I love them and show them I love them in the way I treat them. Now, they treat me with more respect - we are family now..."
On behalf of Friedah and her grandchildren, thank you to all our 2018 Comrades Marathon runners for helping us to bring these families together and help them build a happier and brighter future.
Picture Caption: Friedah Dlamini with her Parenting Skills & Children's Rights training course certificate and the teddy bear she purchased as a gift for her youngest granddaughter from HACT's While Elephant Thrift Store.