Zolelwa* is a 25-year old mother of 5. She is now pregnant with her 6th child. She was admitted into the Mentor Mother Programme. The weight of her 4 children was fine and the 5th was living with her father. On our visits we discovered that none of her children were receiving Child Support Grants (CSG). This was because she herself did not have an identity (ID) book and therefore could not apply for birth certificates for them, making it impossible for them to apply for CSG. All her children were delivered at home; she did not know their birthdays. We asked the neighbours for their birth dates. We reported the case to our managers, who went to assess the situation and took the children to the clinic that very same day. This was not an easy task because Zolelwa is an alcoholic. We went to the nursing sister in charge and she immediately helped by giving the children their immunizations, and issued them with Road to Health Booklets and clinic cards.

We tried to contact the Department of Home Affairs, the village chief and the police station in our efforts to get the mother an ID. Once that was done, we immediately assisted her to apply for birth certificates for all her children. All the children staying with her are now receiving CSG.

As we continued visiting the home, caring for the mother throughout her pregnancy, her eldest child moved back home. We noticed that the child was disabled – she could not walk. The child also didn’t have her birth certificate, and therefore was not receiving a Disability Grant. According to the mother the child was booked for physiotherapy but has never attended the appointments. She had septic sores on both hips. The sores were not washed which meant the house was smelling. We started by washing her with salt water, until we could get a prescription from a medical doctor.

We took her to the clinic and she was given iodine to clean her bedsores. After we saw that she was not getting better, we referred her to the hospital where she was admitted for some time and was discharged with a wheelchair. The hospital arranged for her to get her birth certificate and Disability Grant and was sent to a school for the disabled in Mthatha by the physiotherapist. She is however now back home with her family as she does not want to stay in Mthatha.

*Names have been changed to protect identities