A Claremont business woman has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help make her nanny’s dream of owning her own home come true.
Heidi Villa-Vicencio said she was inspired by Boniswa Mtlomelo’s story of resilience and wanted to help her in some way to be able to buy her retirement home.
Ms Mtlomelo, from Khayelitsha, has worked for the Villa-Vicencio family for more than seven years.
She, her unemployed daughter and granddaughter currently live with her sister.
Ms Mtlomelo did not have an easy life and had to make many sacrifices through the years.
While she doesn’t know where or when she was born, she speaks of her early years in Herschel, a rural village in the Eastern Cape. She never knew her father either.
“My mom was a single mother, who eventually had to leave me with family members when she moved to Johannesburg to find a job as a domestic worker,” she said.
In Grade 11, Ms Mtlomelo fell pregnant and had to leave school. She moved to Cape Town in search of work, so she could take care of her son, Olwethu.
Sharing a room at the back of her sister Edith Mziki employer’s house, she later arranged for Olwethu to join her. This ended when she found a job as a scullery-maid and an assistant cook at a local hotel that required her to live in staff accommodation, leaving her son in the care of her sister.
When the hotel closed, Ms Mtlomelo moved to the township and got married to Tumi Mtlomelo. In the 1990s she found a job as a domestic worker, and later gave birth to her daughter, Sibulele.
Her husband worked as a truck-driver at the time and spent most of his time away from home and later settled in the Eastern Cape.
“With the help of my employer, I was able to buy a one-roomed township house,” she said.
Ms Mtlomelo said her son’s behaviour had, however, become disruptive and he returned home to the Eastern Cape after Ms Mziki evicted him.
After completing a traditional Xhosa initiation, he refused to go to school and got involved in criminal behaviour. He returned to Cape Town and Ms Mtlomelo helped him to build a shack in the backyard of her house.
“He became increasingly aggressive, unco-operative and addicted to drugs. I had him admitted to a rehabilitation centre where he was trained in carpentry skills but he was unable to find a job and reverted back to anti-social behaviour.
“He became involved in alcohol and drug abuse, damaged my house and threatened my life,” she said.
Olwethu was later arrested and spent several months in Pollsmoor Prison. When he was released, he made Ms Mtlomelo’s life unbearable and she was forced to leave her home.
Olwethu’s erratic behaviour continued. He got involved in a fight in a tavern and his body was found four days later. Devastated, Ms Mtlomelo took her son’s body back the Eastern Cape, where he was buried.
She had to start over again but today she has a driver’s license, and works as a housekeeper and a nanny.
“My granddaughter is the final hope and joy of my life”, she said.
Recognising that there are many others in Ms Mtlomelo’s position, Ms Villa-Vicencio said she decided to try and make a small difference. She said Ms Mtlomelo epitomised the struggle and resilience of so many South African women.
“If everyone donates even a R20 or R50 this will go a long way in making her dream come true. She is the bread winner for her family and giving back to a woman like Ms Mtlomelo means you are essentially giving back to a family, a community and a village,” she said.
To date they have raised just over R16 000. To donate, visit www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project