This grandmother (gogo) had not eaten all day. As soon as she was done at The Luke Commission mobile hospital, she said she was walking home to collect green leaves and grasses to cook for supper.

Gogo Sefangani Mndzebele came to the rural TLC outreach to get some medicines for her aches and pains. Frail in stature and understandably bent, she carried a child on her back.

Gogo was “surprised” when TLC staff asked if she would like a wheelchair for the child. Five-year-old Tracey Groening had lived with her grandmother all her life. He arms and legs were underdeveloped.

“We knew she was not right when she was born,” Gogo said, when asked about the child. “Her father ran away when he saw her,” continued Gogo. The child’s mother works in one of Eswatini’s industrial areas and returns home once a month.

“Tracey has a good mind,” Gogo said, as she watched a Free Wheelchair Mission chair being assembled by TLC staff to fit the child. “She sings songs she hears at church. She remembers them when we are at home.”

Home is a traditional Eswatini mud and stick hut. It’s just the two of them who live there. “I am rushing home to find green leaves and cook them. I have not eaten all day.”

Gogo said she used to plow and fetch firewood for others. It was a past tense statement, leaving the unspoken question “What about now?”

Drawing her thoughts back to the happy moment, Gogo smiled and exclaimed: “I am surprised. Thank you to The Luke Commission for my child. Now Tracey will have a nice place to sit, and I can push her places.”

TLC staff arranged transportation to get the new wheelchair to her homestead, as Gogo retied the child on her back for the trek home. First, though, Gogo stopped at the pharmacy to collect her own medications.

by Janet Tuinstra