• 29 Sep 2017

Merriam Tsotetsi’s Story - Drieziek 4, Orange Farm


Ms Merriam Tsotetsi, 74, relocated from Evaton to Orange Farm in 1994. She was given tenure to a piece of land now known as Stand number 2184.

Merriam has been living in a shack for 23 years and has endured a life of poverty. In 2015, she fell into depression and suffered a stroke. She has not been able to recover from this. Merriam lives with her two daughters who are looking after her and caring for her. Both her daughters are currently unemployed. The eldest is Lisbeth, 48 and Niki, 45.

The Tsotetsi family live in a one room shack divided into a kitchen and a bedroom. Niki says that although no one is employed in the family, they depend on a social pension grant they receive on behalf of their mother. She adds that they were really struggling to care for their mother in a shack. The environment was not conducive for her condition as she is in bed 24/7. Before the Nelson Mandela International Day Build Event, Niki said that, “We are excited that my mother has been chosen to be the beneficiary of a house. This house will come with many benefits, particularly for our mother who is really struggling with her health since she was hit by a stroke. Words cannot describe the joy we are feeling right now”.

This sentiment was reconfirmed when we visited the Tsotsetsi family on the Wednesday during the Build Week. A brick and mortar home had risen above the concrete slab from the Monday before – the tangible reality of a lifelong dream. Merriam held my hand from her bed and smiled about the future she would now finally realise – future with mobility, windows to receive natural light, electricity and an indoor toilet. Never will we understand what a home means to this family… a lasting, invaluable gift.

Thank you to ‘every hand that made a difference’ during the Nelson Mandela International Day Build Week in Drieziek 4, Orange Farm.