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Local woman gives children a Place of Joy

Posted by Paddy On May - 27 - 2009

By: Tamzyn Degoumois, Roza Carvalho, Kyla Herrmannsen & Vuyolwethu Tshekela

Despite the fact that this week marked child protection week, many children are still suffering in South Africa. We travelled to Extension 9 in Grahamstown to see how one community member is making a difference in the face of insufficient government assistance.

Nomalungelo ‘Margaret’ Ngcongco cares for twelve foster-children in her home ‘the Place of Joy’ in Extension 9.  She is providing for these children without the full financial and other forms of assistance that she should be getting from the Department of Social Development. Many of the children also come from abusive homes and backgrounds of neglect and have not received any counselling from Social Workers.

 Margaret narrates one of her foster children’s stories, with pictures of her and her foster children.

Photos by Kirsty Harcourt-Cooke


Eight of the children have been assigned to Margaret by Social Services in Grahamstown, while the remaining four are children of relatives. According to the Children’s Amendment Act of 2007, the legal limit of foster-children permitted to the care of one guardian is six. The act also allows for a maximum of six grants of R680 per month per child. 

Grant problems

In accordance with the law Margaret does not receive foster grants for two of the eight children assigned by social services. Margaret says the six grants are “nothing, you can’t do nothing with R680. The most of the money I used my money”.  She says the grants are quickly used in paying for school fees, crèche, food and transport and she often has to rely on the kindness of local businesses.


Click here to listen to Jill White, Manager of Kwikspar, Grahamstown speak about her link to ‘House of Joy’ Click for audio download  


Margaret also says that the Social Development Department does not provide the regular check –ups and reports on the children as required by the act. She says social services “dump the children on her like SPCA” with nothing “not even clothes”. The Department also do not give any extra assistance or counselling to Margaret despite the fact that at least one of the children is mute and four are HIV positive.

Response from Social Services

The Department of Social Development were unavailable for comment at the time of posting.

But Margaret is unfazed by the lack of support and financial assistance from the Department of Social Services. She describes her children’s home as “my vision and my ministry nobody pushed me to do this it just came inside my heart”.

Margaret’s story

Margaret began fostering children in 1994. She started by taking in an abandoned 3 day old baby girl. Since then Margaret has brought another eleven children into her house and has built what she calls “my family”. She adds that the children who stay with her are more like her grandchildren and that she cannot see them as orphans.

Margaret credits God for “giving me the strength” to do her work and provide for the children, saying that one has “to know God”. She also thanks her community for helping her fundraise and praying for her in Church.

 Despite her love for her children Margaret says she hopes that they will be re-united with their families so that she can take in and help others. She also hopes to expand to a larger property which would enable her to take in more children.


Margaret talks about her hopes to reintegrate these children and their families.                  Click for audio download  

Margaret’s dedication and affection for her ‘children’ is self-evident and comes through in the way that she speaks about them.   


Grants made easy

Here is a three step guide to getting a grant. Click on "How to apply for a grant" for more detail.

Here is a three step guide to getting a grant. Click to enlarge.

Click here for detailed information on how to apply for a grant.


1 Response

  1. alette Said,

    Is there any way to contact Margeret if one wants to donate some food or clothes?

    Posted on July 20th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

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