A story of health and hope

A story of health and hope

Thabiso* is a 5-year old boy who lives with his mother Nosipho* in Mashishing, Mpumalanga. Nosipho is a single parent who used to live and work in Mbombela. Nosipho lost her job last year and moved back home to live with her mother in Mashishing. Her mother is great support for her as she helps her look after Thabiso when she finds odd jobs here and there to help sustain the family. Nosipho is struggling to find permanent work at the moment but she remains hopeful that their family’s situation will improve. Nosipho is thankful to the Cotlands playgroup team for the intervention and support offered by the nurse and the early learning playgroup facilitator. They played an instrumental role in saving her son’s life when he contracted Bilharzia.

Before Nosipho moved back to her mother’s house, Thabiso used to cry and shout out to his mother, “No one cares about me. I have no one to play with at home and it’s not fair!” Nosipho was concerned about her son’s emotional state in Mbombela. He expressed a lot of anger and frustration. He was such a lonely child. Things are much better since they moved back to her Mom’s place.

Thabiso is a much happier child as he gets to interact and play with other children. This social interaction at regular play sessions is a key benefit for children like Thabiso as it develops social and emotional skills. Nosipho feels a sense of relief and Thabiso is a much happier child. He laughs often and enjoys playing at home with his Mom and Gogo and other children in the village. Thanks to the Cotlands Toy Library, Nosipho attends parent training sessions hosted by our Toy Librarians. Nosipho now understands the benefit of different types of toys and how that provides holistic development for her child. Now that Nosipho spends more time at home with her son, the toy library has helped her engage in a variety of meaningful play activities with her son. 

 This service is a big help for Nosipho as she does not receive a regular income and the monthly grant that she receives is enough to take care of the basics such as food and toiletries for her family. But thanks to partners like you we can help Nosipho create memories that last a lifetime as she plays alongside her son, and develops his full potential.


During one of our regular play sessions, Josephine our early learning playgroup facilitator, noticed that Thabiso had a rash, he was lethargic and when she checked his temperature it was higher than normal. Josephine immediately called Nosipho to let her know she should attend an urgent meeting at our playgroup with our Cotlands nurse, Sister Vinolia. The sister explained that she was concerned about Thabiso’s symptoms and she had arranged an urgent appointment with the doctor at the closest clinic. 

After the medical investigation, they diagnosed Thabiso with early stages of Bilharzia and prescribed the necessary medication to eliminate the parasite. Nosipho was shocked, but she realised that her son must have picked up the parasite when he was swimming in a small pond close to their house. At the time she reprimanded Thabiso for swimming in the contaminated water.

Nosipho is thankful to Josephine and Sister Vinolia for the health referral to the clinic and for catching the infection at an early stage. This referral prevented major damage to his lungs, brain, and nervous system. Nosipho also noticed a marked improvement in Thabiso’s energy levels. She is grateful that he receives a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, and pap at our playgroups as she has so little money to spend on food for her family. These healthy meals help her son heal quicker and grow faster.

*Thabiso and Nosipho are not their real names.

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