Life will never be the same for siblings Lonwabo and Samkelo Dandala.
Both their parents died from Aids-related illnesses in 2006, and the two were forced to look after their entire family of seven children in a tiny mud house with no electricity or running water.
Samkelo and Lonwabo, who live in Mandela Park, just outside the Mthatha city centre, were forced to drop out school before their matric year and get a job in order to generate income.
But all that changed this week, thanks to a Good Samaritan who, as part of the Mandela Day initiative, built the family a new house. Businessman Enoch Luphondwana not only built the house for the family, but also ensured it was fully furnished. He will also be delivering groceries to the family on a regular basis.
“When I learnt of their plight, I could not just sit back. I felt I had to do something to help this family. There are many out there who are like them, but I had to do my bit for this one,” said Luphondwana.
He is one of many South Africans who went out of their way to help those in need to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela and his gift to South Africa.
“When you see such things, you feel like you can help everyone but it’s not always possible. This year I decided to heed the call for us to help, and helping this family and making some change in their lives makes me happy.”
Lonwabo, who is now 24, says his dream is to finish his matric one day.
“We now have a proper house and there is hope that things may change for the better and all I want to focus on now is completing my matric.
“I want to be able to take care of my family one day. I want to have a qualification so that I can give them a decent life,” he said.
Eastern Cape Arts and Culture MEC Xoliswa Tom called on parents to make the right decisions for the sake of their children.
“I think it important that the values that we inculcate in our children’s minds are the values that will make them who they would be in life. I’m thinking about Nelson Mandela’s mother and the decisions that she took,” said Tom.
“When Mandela’s father died and the family lost everything, she decided to take him from Qunu to Mqhekezweni to Chief Jongilanga who brought Mandela up… so today I’m just thinking about her and the choice that she made because we would probably not have the Mandela we have today.
“It therefore teaches us that what mothers do today will affect the future of their children and can even affect the future of the nation.”