Rand Aid’s Thembalami Care Centre recently bid a very sad farewell to the gogos who were part of its Zamokhule outreach programme for the past 14 years.
At a farewell function for the gogos, held on 31 May, Thembalami’s deputy manager Elize Raath – who was instrumental in getting the programme off the ground in 2009, with funding from the Department of Social Development – explained that Thembalami established the Zamokuhle outreach programme to assist elders in need in nearby Alexandra, River Park and East Bank.
Run from Thembalami, in Lombardy East, three mornings a week, the programme assisted pensioners so that they could remain within their own community for as long as possible.
It provided a platform for them to meet and socialise with other members of the community; enabled the transfer of skills; provided breakfast and lunch; empowered participants about elders’ rights, via a monthly abuse awareness programme; and provided spiritual upliftment, among other things.
In 2009, Elize met with elder Victoria Smith from Alexandra, to discuss how they could get the programme off the ground together. Victoria needed a service centre to help the gogos and Thembalami wanted to get its outreach programme up and running.
“The programme started with Victoria and two other women who needed assistance. It wasn’t long before word spread and we gained new members. At one stage, 38 women were part of the programme,” says Elize.
Makgati Legodi started at Thembalami as a volunteer, eventually becoming a social worker. She worked closely with the gogos in the programme and everyone learnt from each other.
“We will be forever grateful to Makgati for her dedication and for helping our gogos to function independently,” says Elize.
At the farewell function, Elize urged the gogos to continue with their service centre in Alexandra.
“Never let go of Zamokuhle! Without you, the service centre would not have been opened. It was your perseverance, dedication and regular attendance that pulled it all together.
“We are so proud of you all. I know that you can do it. Thank you for all the joy you brought to Thembalami. We appreciate you and you will always have a special place in our hearts.”
Thembalami manager Esme van der Walt also thanked the gogos for accepting her as part of their family when she joined Rand Aid in 2019. “They gave me a very special nickname, Thandeka, which meant a lot to me,” she says.
Victoria thanked Thembalami and its employees for everything that the care centre has done for the gogos over the years.
“We really appreciated the food vouchers we received during Covid-19 and the food parcels from the Spar Truck of Love,” she said.
To thank the care centre, the gogos wrote and sang a song which expressed their love for Thembalami.
The gogos enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken biryani and malva pudding, prepared by Lee-Ann Sass, the daughter of one of Thembalami’s residents. Thembalami supplied the ingredients.
Thembalami also gave each gogo a branded Zamokuhle coffee mug, with a heart printed on the side. Inside was a slab of chocolate, a sachet of coffee, an Easter egg and a deodorant.
The programme has been stopped due to its budget being cut by the Department of Social Development.