Manana Moloi – an N3TC Hero Mamelo e tswala kathleho (perseverance is the mother of success)

After retiring, Manana Moloi opened a spaza shop in the garage beside the home she has lived in since 1950. “I had people coming every day to ask me for water or some porridge, I couldn’t believe the suffering.” The children especially worried her, so she closed the shop and started to feed needy people from the garage instead. Soon, as clinics and churches started to send children to her for help, she had more people than she and her friends could cope with.

In 2008 she approached the municipality to allow her to use an old beer hall in the township instead. The building has been transformed with carpets, furniture, paint and love and resonates with the laughter of children now. After school, a wholesome meal and the opportunity to play board games, read or get help with homework is a life saver for many of these kids. Of the 500 children registered, 175 are on anti-retroviral treatment. “When I can, I try to make some mielie meal for them early in the morning so they can take their medication.”

The derelict back yard is being transformed into a playground, ablutions and vegetable garden with the help of local contactor Carl de Klerk. Carl truly enjoys every moment he spends with Manana and feels privileged to have met someone of such integrity. “My first impression of Me Manana was that she is a ray of hope, someone who loves, cares, understands and comforts without expecting anything in return. For the short time in my life that we have shared time together, she has left her mark on me. I am proud to say that Me Manana is my friend.”

It seems that everyone in Intabazwe knows Manana. Multi-lingual greetings of Khotso, Hello Sweetie, Môre and Sawubona Gogo echo through the streets as she walks home. She pops in to the school were Principal Ms Msikidi, talks about the impact she has had on the community “She is young at heart and so passionate. She is going all out to change this community. There is always 5% of the community that is bad and challenge you to try even harder.”

Others are drawn by Manana’s philosophy of ‘together we can do more’. Her commitment has attracted those who are keen to help, particularly young people. Sabelo Sigudu is her right hand man, “It is in my heart to do this, I just want to help the community – there are many rewards for this work. My childhood was difficult and I don’t like to see others suffer.” Kananelo Tsotetsi has taught the children to play chess and promotes indigenous games like Kgati, Diketo and Marabaraba while Hlengiwe Motloung plans to introduce ballroom dancing because she believes building self-esteem is just as important as exercise.

She shares her home with her daughter Vuyelwa, who studied law and works in Qwa Qwa for the Legal Aid Board. Manana is very proud of her and recalls an incident when Vuyelwa watching TV when she was only four years old. “Judge Dullah Omar was on the screen wearing his long black coat. Vuyelwa asked who he was and announced that she too would be a lawyer when she grew up!” She actually intends being a judge. Vuyelwa says “My mum was always helping people. When I was growing up there were always people coming and going in our lives. Although we were a small family, just my mum, gran and me, our house was full of people who needed help.”

Manana is definitely persevering but it is her connections to the community which give her strength. There is no doubt that her efforts are appreciated by the Intabazwe community. Her ability to get things done means that N3TC is delighted to be able to assist Manana to make a significant difference in the Harrismith community. “Oooh, N3TC love Manana”, she concludes “and I love N3TC.”

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Photo by Nikki Brighton, “Manana is a ray of hope, someone who loves, cares, understand and comforts without expecting anything in return”.