The Moila Story

This is the story of three young girls who found themselves lost in this world after they had lost their parents. This is the story of my sisters and me. My name is Grace Moila and I am a third year BEd student at university of Pretoria. I am a sister and a parent to both my younger siblings, Anata (16) and Zanele (12).

Growing up, my father was mentally unstable and my mother had a heart condition which did not allow her to function properly and led to her losing her memory and sanity at a later stage; so I think it is safe to say that we had mentally unstable parents, but we had parents. We had a mother and no matter what she battled with mentally she always tried to be there for us. My father passed away in early February 2017, after which I took a gap year to look after my mother and siblings. In 2018 I began pursuing a degree through UNISA. Because it is distance learning, I was able to juggle both school and helping my mother and the kids, but I found that I couldn’t afford textbooks and the transport fare to go and write exams. I would walk crazy distances only to arrive at the venue tired. Regardless of what was going on in my life, I always had the urge to pursue education and to try my best. I am the first person in my family to ever go to university and my mother always told me to put God at the centre of it all and everything else will fall into place.

I applied and was accepted to the University of Pretoria with the help of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Shortly after I had moved to full time learning in Pretoria my mother passed away one Friday morning from a heart attack. It was a devastating experience and we still battle with the memories of the incident. My siblings used to have consistent nightmares and till today, Zanele cannot fall asleep unless I lay next to her. Anata used to have nightmares and she would wake up and cry the whole night until around 06:00 in the morning. Relatives kicked us out of what we used to know as home, and one distant relative took both the girls in while I tried to finish off the year in varsity with the condition that I drop out and come marry her grandchild. We tried reaching out to other families but they offered to help me only if I agreed to sleep with men in exchange for favours. I would always worry about how my sisters were doing while I was in Pretoria, especially because they were being mistreated by the relative. They were told that they are orphans and so they do not have a right to cry or complain. They did not know that Zanele stays up all night and Anata wakes up and cries, so I tried talking to the lady who stayed with them. I asked if she could get them a cheap cellphone with their SASSA grant so that I can try to talk to them until they fall asleep each night and she told me that if I was going to make such demands then I would find them sleeping in the streets. She gave me a month to come and fetch them, she then cancelled their SASSA grant. I was in the middle of final exams in my second year of studying and she would constantly call to remind me how many days I have left before she kicks them out. I would panic and beg her but she wasn’t taking it, she only stayed with them for several months. So I asked a friend of mine at varsity about the cheapest places I could stay with my siblings and she told me about the squatter camps in Mamelodi. I got a bursary that paid all my debt and I saved the meal allowance for five months so that I could claim the money back and use the money to fetch my sisters from Limpopo.

Our new home in Mamelodi was so scary and unsafe, rats would run all over us as we slept at night and the door couldn’t lock, but my sisters understood. They were just happy I was with them and that gave me strength. They did not complain or feel like I had ruined their lives, they were just happy that I was there to put them to bed and pray with them. We read the Word of God together and we played together. When feeling discouraged we would walk towards the nicer part of Mamelodi and envision ourselves living there, that really helped. We weren’t able to focus on our schoolwork or anything else for that matter. We were really lost and depressed and just when the money I had saved ran out, I met Gail at Hatfield Christian School during my teaching practice and something within me told me I could trust her.

One day when I was feeling really heavy and having a panic attack, I sent her a message. I did not know why I did that or what made me trust her because I usually do not talk about my problems to anyone, but now I understand what the Holy Spirit was doing. Gail started talking to me regularly and introduced me to the Trust and right there, I knew that God had heard my cries.

They have helped us financially so that we now have money to buy food every month,  and have moved to a much safer place. Gail has taught us how to knit and bake. We have found family. They really attend to our needs in a matter of urgency and they have shown us nothing but love. They have provided coaching and a sense of support in every way. We now do not feel as afraid and uncertain as we used to. We now know that we are not alone, but have a family that loves us . We are no longer depressed and panicking, and I personally feel like greater things have yet to come and that this is the beginning of a beautiful journey.