Sibu Lusaseni was only nine years old when her mother passed away. Nobody in the community of KwaLanga was able to support her and her brother, but the two orphans managed to survive, thanks to a child support grant from government.
Lusaseni noticed that her brother would go to a nearby building and come back with food and some money which helped her go to school. This is when she discovered how blessed they were to live in a country, which made things better for vulnerable children.
“I didn’t know who my brother was meeting in that building, but when he returned, we had food on the table and money to go to school,” said Lusaseni, who called her brother a guardian angel.
Commenting on government’s social protection programmes, Lusaseni thanked government, her community and non-governmental organisations for making it possible for her to reach her goals in life. “You may think you are doing small things, but they make a big difference to vulnerable children,” she said.
Studies by the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Financial and Fiscal Commission of South Africa and the Department of Social Development showed that child support grants reduced the level and harshness of poverty during economic difficulties.
The study was done to evaluate the effect of the 2008/2009 economic downturn on children in South Africa. It found that child support grants playd a major role in helping poor households to survive during times of economic difficulties.
As a beneficiary of the child support grant while she was growing up, Lusaseni acknowledged the role played by the grants emphasising that they made her strong. “The grants didn’t make me lazy, but made me more of myself…let’s not forget that we are building a caring society together,” said Lusaseni.
Lusaseni is now happily married and running her own business. Among other things, she is a public speaker who motivates people using her own experiences.
According to our Constitution everyone has a right to social security. By the end of March this year, more than 10 million children were benefiting from child support grants.
“We have been very aware that our social assistance programme does provide a basic safety net for the millions of South Africans, especially young, aged and the disabled,” said Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini. She challenged department officials to go out and search for all children who qualified for grants, but were not getting them.