“My neighbours are asking if I’m mad,” Mrs Dlamini laughs. She enthusiastically shares her foster care journey with us, sitting on the family’s sofa with the sun shining in through the open door. Chickens are running around in the garden facing the many houses on the green hills.
For Mr and Mrs Dalmini, it began with taking in a relative’s 5-year-old girl and has led to them currently having six other children from four different families placed with them.
“I wanted two children from the start. I received two, but when the four others arrived later on I had some fears” admits Mrs Dlamini. She tells how she had one child of her own before any of the others arrived. He was older and did not stay at home anymore. She felt as if there was a missing piece in her life and made contact with Give a Child a Family Africa to start the foster care process of screenings, home visits and training. The Dlamini couple was approved and put on the organisation’s database for prospective foster parents.
The first child came to the couple on an urgent request. A foster care placement had broken down, and instead of bringing the little girl to an institution, she was taken straight to Mr and Mrs Dlamini’s home. The second child came a few years later. It was another girl, who had been back and forth from her own family to an institution a few times. Once again, the Dlaminis welcomed a child in need of stability in a family.
It was after becoming a foster mother, that she felt like she really found herself. “I believe in the spirit of Ubuntu. I have a good heart and feel like I’m Jesus’ sister, able to care and treat any children like they are related to me.”
One day, it was found out that one of the two foster children had younger siblings, also placed in one of GCF’s foster families. When Mrs Dlamini was informed, she took the girl and visited the family. They kept in contact, but only a year later, their foster mother suddenly passed away. Their social worker phoned her, asking if she and her husband could consider having the three young children placed with them too, since they could not remain where they were. Mr and Mrs Dlamini discussed the matter. Even though she felt incredibly sorry for the children, she was a bit reluctant and doubted if she would manage. Her husband convinced her that the children must be allowed to come to be close to their older sister. And, he has been very supportive from the day they arrived. In the same foster family as the siblings, was another foster child placed. The couple welcomed her as well and their household doubled its members in only a few days.
Mrs Dlamini proves again and again in our conversation, how she does not hesitate to walk the extra mile when she believes it is best for the children. She tells us when one of the older girls wanted to find out more about her background, she found out where the biological mother lives through the social worker. They went to see her, which came to be a disappointment for the girl. Her mother-of-origin lived a lifestyle filled with destruction and did not show her any particular interest. Mrs Dlamini shares how she believes that it would have been devastating for the four siblings if they had remained with their mother. “I can’t see that they would be schooling. They would probably be on the streets to look for food. Maybe, they would be left with other people with bad intentions, who would have taken advantage of them.”
Mrs Dlamini and her husband are concerned about the children’s future. Not one of their parents or relatives has come forward wanting to develop a relationship with them. The couple are considering buying a site for the children, that they can have when they are older and Mr and Mrs Dlamini are no longer alive. This strong woman loves how her foster children keep her busy. She feels like God has invested in her so that she can raise them. Her niece is an adult today and attends University studies away from home and her first foster girl, who arrived when she was 3 years old is in high school now. All children are of school-going age and the youngest has just begun Grade R. It has not always been easy, since challenges are coming with every child in different ways, but Mrs Dlamini is happy to see how her input in their lives has paid off.