She had three sons and a daughter. One son was unemployed, one had an alcohol problem and the other was in and out of jobs. In June, 2011, she lost her twenty-eight year old daughter to HIV/Aids – the disease that has claimed so many lives in our country. Gogo Mchunu did not even have enough money to organise a funeral service for her beloved child.
Suddenly she had to raise her two grandchildren- an eight year old girl and an eight month old baby boy. The little girl had psychological problems because she had been raped several times when she was younger.
This is not the situation Mary Mchunu, fondly known as Gogo Mchunu, would have chosen for herself. It’s not the situation any of us would choose for ourselves.
The CAST team met Mary through home visits conducted by volunteers in Lamontville. The team soon realised she was in need of food parcels and through this system they were able to provide some sort of financial relief. A relationship was built with Mary and she soon got to know about Lamontville Baptist Church.
The church organised money to pay for her daughter’s funeral and it was this small action that opened her eyes to the love of Jesus. Here were people that didn’t even really know her and yet they were willing to help her and her family.
In the Zulu culture, there is a belief that when a family member dies, the mourner should stay indoors for almost a month, leaving the house only to buy food.
But after only a couple of weeks, Mary came into Lamontville Baptist, shared her story with the congregation and soon after that became a member of the congregation.
Last year, in 2012, she was baptised.
Gogo Mchunu suffers from arthritis, hypertension and diabetes and should be resting all day, but she loves the church and the people so much, that nobody could keep her from spending time their with everyone. God has been working through the CAST team and the church so much to bring change in this woman’s life.
Her grandson, who was also found to be infected with HIV/Aids, is growing stronger through the proper nutrition he is receiving and her granddaughter, after attending church, receiving counselling and meeting with missionary volunteers has also shown a huge improvement in her mental state.
Sbusiso Cebisa – the CAST area coordinator and counsellor in the Lamontville area – has been working closely with Gogo Mchunu and her family, trying to help them understand the situation they are living in and helping to empower and equip them to do more with their lives. He tries to help them identify their problems and then work at directly solving those problems.
Gogo Mchunu now sells vegetables to the community as well as packets of popcorn for the children in Lamontville. One of her son’s has also secured a job, so the family has some form of income now. It’s not much, but it’s a start, and the journey of Gogo Mchunu is not over.
From being desolate and scared, feeling like her world was falling apart, she is now an active member of the church, living with purpose and a huge love for Jesus and the community.
All it took was the willingness of volunteers, the love of the local church, and the provision of food parcels to change a life.
And at the core of it all, was Jesus.