In October 2018, after years of struggling to build a decent shelter, Matende was fortunate enough to join hands with Habitat SA and Institut de la Tour, a French Global Village Team.
Gogo Matende Msomi was born in Umkhomaas in 1942. Her husband tragically passed away and she was left to look after her three children; Phuthu, Joyce and Nkulu.
Nkulu (29) is currently working for Dezzo Holdings, who are partnering with Habitat SA on the construction of decent homes in this Umgababa Special Needs Project.
Before the build, the Msomi family had access to a shared water standpipe, an outside toilet and electricity. Gogo Matende receives a pension, which assists the family to put food on the table. Her favourite pastime is time spent with her grandchildren.
Gogo Matende told us at the time that, “Now it [is] summer time, it [is] going to be raining almost every day, meaning we will be suffering every day because of our leaking roof. I am very excited that this will be happening for the last time in our life time. I thank God for the opportunity to be part of building my own house, it been a long wait, but worth waiting.”
The structure of the shelter that the Msomi family were staying in was in a terrible condition, with a leaking roof and cracking walls.
Now that the family has a decent place to call home, Gogo Matende thanked all those who built with her and gratefully commented on how, “Our lives are changed for [the] better. We are now staying peacefully in our 2-bedroom house”
Gogo Matende couldn’t hold back her tears.
“My home looks great, and I’m proud to call it home. The people who came out to build…and especially Habitat for Humanity SA who lead the groups, you are doing an amazing and wonderful work. I am so grateful to all of you. Thank you for being the best thing that [has] happened to my family.”
We asked Gogo Matende a few questions regarding her experience amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and South Africa’s Lockdown:
How are you protecting yourselves from COVID-19?
“Since the lockdown was announced, we have been staying in the house. We regularly wash hands as we have been told to. We might not have masks and gloves, but we are doing everything we can to stay home and keeping safe.”
Do you feel particularly vulnerable and in what ways?
“One of my grandsons is recovering from TB; he still goes to the clinic to collect treatment. So in that way we are vulnerable because he is a high risk, he can easily get infected at the clinic. But we hope and trust that God will protect us in these trying times. On the 31st of March I went to collect my pension money, and I made contact with a few people so I really don’t know. I am just praying that we get over this and things get back to normal.”
What other ways has the virus impacted you?
“Sometimes we run out of food in the house and you can’t just go to the shops, most of the spaza shops are closed and you have to go to town and take a taxi. I normally ask my grandchildren to go buy food. They also feel unsafe in taxis, hence they sometimes refuse to go and buy if I ask them.
Taking care of the family is challenging around this time, because our movements are limited. One of my grandchild is not going to work, we are worried what if after this period she losses her job?”
You can assist vulnerable elderly South Africans like Gogo Matende Msomi who are in critical need of decent homes. Please support our Elderly Housing Project: www.habitat.org.za/elderly-housing-project/