/ 19 July 2013

Continuing the gift in the name of Mama Tambo

Continuing The Gift In The Name Of Mama Tambo

Wattville, in Ekurhuleni, faces socioeconomic challenges and it comes as no surprise that Adelaide Tambo championed initiatives that sought to alleviate poverty in the community.

Women in the community remember Mama Tambo as a God-fearing woman who lived to honour her late husband Oliver Tambo’s wish — that she should serve the people of the community under the church.

She stayed true to her word and Busi Ndaba (71), who was a close friend, testifies that it was through the church that the renowned Octogenarian Christmas Lunch initiative was developed.

This was when the Izwelonke Women’s Prayer Forum was formed and led by Mama Tambo while she served as leader of the mother union at her church, The Church of Resurrection in Wattville.

Ndaba, who was appointed as a co-ordinator by Mama Tambo, says the prayer forum was formed by women from churches in Wattville focusing on fundraising initiatives for the elderly and creating a platform for women empowerment, food security and poverty alleviation, all under Adelaide’s supervision.

How the idea came about
Ndaba says the idea came about while she and Mama Tambo were having tea together and wondered what they could do to help members of the community, particularly the elderly.

“The intention was to organise lunch for gogos during Christmas every year not only in Wattville, but also in other areas such as Duduza Katlehong, Vosloorus and Daveyton.”

Mama Tambo was highly regarded for hosting the Christmas lunches for the elderly.

“It brought joy to the gogos on Christmas day, who otherwise would have endured a bleak Christmas on an empty stomach while also sparing others from spending the day all alone.”

She often used money from her own pocket to finance the yearly event. “Mama Tambo did so much for the community through her dedication to the less fortunate.”

However, Ndaba emphasises that the vision of her beloved friend went far beyond the Christmas lunch. She says that Mama Tambo’s dream was to build a home for the elderly in Wattville.

Mama Tambo's dream
“Mama Tambo wanted to do more for the community; her dream was was to build facilities to accommodate the elderly on a fulltime basis.”

Today, Ndaba runs a daycare centre for the elderly in Wattville in honour of Adelaide Tambo. She says that she wanted to carry out the dream of her friend after her death in 2007.

Operating from an average sized house, the property facilitates a bakery, gym studio and activity rooms for the the gogos who come to the daycare centre daily.

Elderly people in Wattville and surrounding areas benefit through initiatives by the daycare centre.

A total of 46 elders are hosted in a stimulating environment, and daily nutritious meals (breakfast and lunch) and home-based care are provided to 20 bedridden elderly people.

Activities include knitting, sewing, handwork and daily worship. Ndaba says the ultimate goal is to develop a home dedicated to the elderly.

No retirerment yet
Ndaba manages the centre herself and wants to see it established as a fully-fledged centre that caters for the elderly, before she even thinks about retirement.

Ndaba says that the daycare remains true to the legacy of Mama Tambo, whose heart was open to the elderly and vulnerable. The mission and vision statement of the nonprofit was written by Mama Tambo herself and still guides the organisation today.

Though the centre struggles to keep its head above water, she believes in the power of prayer and knows that God will provide. “The MamaTambo Collection is a blessing, and might have come just at the right time. We are blessed to be beneficiaries.”

A gogo’s wish list
The needs of Izwelonke Women’s Group include:
• To be adopted by an umbrella organisation or a funding organisation to ensure that the day to day running is not hindered due to lack of funds;
• Land and facilities to operate a fully-fledged home. The organisation is crammed into space that houses not only the management offices but also the bakery, gym studio, activity rooms and kitchen;
• A security system because of fears that gym equipment and sewing machines may get stolen;
• Renovations to the current centre. The house is dilapidated and has no furniture, making it difficult to conduct business with pride;
• A microbus. The gogos who come to the centre need transport to come to the centre in the morning and back to their homes at the end of the day;
• Kitchen utensils and equipment. Basic equipment such as a working stove, refrigerator, tables and chairs are needed by the organisation.