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WIDOWED, WITH DISABILITY, 8 MOUTHS TO FEED

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MATSETSA – Gcinaphi Simelane, 52, always relied on her husband’s income to feed herself and family.


When she became a widow, life was plunged into uncertainty.
She has been a widow for almost 13 years after the passing of her husband in 2005.


Simelane, who has disability due to the polio virus, is now the breadwinner of the family of eight.


Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It is caused by the poliovirus.
The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing one not being able to move parts of their body.
In Simelane’s case, she is unable to move her entire left leg.


Comprise


The family comprises her four children and grandchildren. One of  the  children has a disability.
They live in a small one-room house, which might collapse on them at anytime as it has visible cracks on the wall.
According to the 2006-07 Demographic and Health Survey, half of the households in Eswatini are headed by a woman.


When reporters from this publication visited the homestead which is situated at Matsetsa, an area in the Lubombo Region, Simelane was found with two of her younger daughters and a grandson.


Supported


Relating the family’s plight, Simelane explained that she supported the children with her disability grant.
Her grant stands at E520 every three months.
Mathematically, this means that Simelane receives E180 per month.


Supplemented


Besides the endowment from government, Simelane pointed out that she supplemented it with doing piece jobs for teachers at the local school.
Assistance
“I do laundry for one of the teachers and I get paid E200 per month. I also get assistance from my daughter who also has a disability. She does house chores for a neighbour, who in turn pays her E200,” she said.


Tears slowly filled  her eyes, as she  stated that her daughter had hearing challenges and could not talk properly.
When realising that her mother was about to break down, the daughter, Khanyisile, comforted her.


After regaining composure, Simelane said during school days, she sold fat cakes to pupils at the local school to supplement her income.
Besides, she added that her other two daughters, who have four children of their own, were textile workers.
Affirmative
“However, they need to look after their own children. The eldest, who is 30 years old, has one child while the one who is 27 years old, has three children. The fathers of my grandchildren are not employed.”
Asked if she educated her daughters about family planning, Simelane responded to the affirmative.
After educating her daughters about contraceptives, Simelane said they had become aware about the burden of taking care of a family which did not have a steady income.
“With the little that we get from the different sources of income, we usually purchase maize and rice that would last us a month. The rest of the money goes to utility bills.”
Income
After spending the income on groceries and bills, Simelane said they were left with nothing.
During school holidays, Simelane pointed out that they usually struggle because the income would be lower.
“However, neighbours have been very supportive. They share their food with us during the hard times.” 
Depleted
Once their source of income becomes depleted, Simelane wondered what would happen in the event one of the family members fell sick to the extent of being hospitalised.
This, she said, emanated from the fact that they share a one- room.
“What will happen should one of us have a contagious disease? It will spread quickly.”
With that, she led this reporter to inspect the house that they have lived in for almost 20 years.
Stashed
Inside, there are two beds, a pile of clothes and blankets stashed in a corner, a refrigerator, a television set and a makeshift cupboard.
Simelane explained that most of these things were donated to them by Good Samaritans.
She made a special mention of a former teacher, whom she identified as Make Mvila, who gave her the refrigerator and television set.
Bills
“In a bid to cut costs of electricity bills, we do not use appliances.”
Worth noting is that there were visible cracks on the walls, which she pointed out to the reporter.
Pointing at the crevices, Simelane said she was concerned about the safety of her family.

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