This weekend we met a very special young lady. She has an important story to tell. It is her story.


By Mmabatho Molefe

Growing up I always felt not loved enough by my father. I grew up feeling desolated and felt that he resented me for something. I believe he loved me in his own way but I never really felt it. Sometimes he would say horrible things about me and as a young girl I was hurt so much but never spoke about it. I bottled-up every hurt and anger I felt. I felt disconnected from him only to find out 21 years later that he is not my biological father. I guess I always sensed that but as a kid you would not ask such a question. My mother did not plan to tell me not anytime soon, I guess she was trying to protect me somehow. And someday circumstances insisted or may I say fate insisted I be told who my biological father is. And at that moment I did not care whose blood I carried but was more yearning for my fathers (step father) love and approval but sadly I never got that from him. As I grew up so did my insecurities, sorrow, desolation and anger.

Time went by and teenage years sunk in, can’t say I was I rebellious teenager but made wrong choices here and there giving my step father leverage to discourage me. But that did not affect me anyhow by that moment so I thought, because everything he would say I would suppress those emotions and never talk about them. Until when I was 18 I met my boyfriend, we were friends at first but not close, he did and said al the right things and I fell in love with him and I fell hard. He loved me and I loved him and nothing mattered to me anymore but him. I was in my matric year and I can say that I am a pretty smart  and intelligent girl but I started to abandon my studies when I went to secondary school I had emotional issues and felt I could not talk to anyone about them until I met my boyfriend. I was in love, now that I think of it I think I was yearning more for the love from a father figure than that of a boyfriend but because I did not have that and I had my boyfriend I settled for that instead. I fell head over heels for him.

Two years later at the age 20 became a mom, I was nervously excited deep inside of me I believed he will always be there for me and he was. Two years after my son was born everything still ok, ups and downs of course in our relationship but we were stable and great. Until 09 January 2010 an argument spun things out of control. That whole week we have been fighting like normal couples usually do and he is the kind of guy who did not like to talk problems through and I guess I was tired of that so I insisted we talk. That day I tried to reach him and went to his home but he was not home and I went man hunt for him, stupid I know but that moment I thought it was necessary, I figure I was tired of pretending that there was no problem. I had the baby with me and it was in the afternoon so I took a walk with the baby after I found out where he was so we could talk and settle that problem we were fighting about the whole week already. After walking about an hour I eventually found him at a local bar, so I waited for him to come out to us I waited and waited don’t know why but I did and later he eventually came. As we tried to talk an argument rose up again, we both said things that we should have not said and he drove off and left us there, so I waited as it was already late and thought he would come back for us but he did not, so I had no choice but to go back home on foot alone with the baby at night.

I was more terrified of what might happen to us as I walked back home with the baby in my arms. So I prayed so hard for us to arrive home safely but I was also angry and thought to myself why would he do that to us? Why would he leave us like that at night but got no answers? I guess he was not thinking clearly and I on the other hand expected him to be perfect in every way possible. We brought the worst of each other that day. I thankfully got home safe and sound with the child but not my home his home as it is nearer from where I came from than mine, so I went there and laid the baby to bed and I went to bed too. When he came home later that night I asked him to tell me why he did that to us and what went through his head leaving us there in the middle of the night. But got no answers, he said a lot without saying anything at all and I got angrier and emotional. I felt every hurt, sorrow and anger flushing back in me. I became confused and felt betrayed by one person I considered my best friend. I could not look beyond tomorrow, I could not rationalize anything that was happening, and it’s amazing how a moment of weakness can change the rest of your life. I lost my sanity that impulsive moment and all I could hear in my head was how unworthy I am and how much I did not deserve to be loved and how much I deserved everything that was happening in my life and how no one loved me. Besides my biological father did not want anything to do with me, the father I knew all my life did not love me and the guy who know my innermost everything turns out to not care and those were my thoughts that moment. They treated me unworthy and I started to behave unworthy. Anger and heartache changed who I am, I acted impulsive and took a flammable substance and set myself alive on fire. In a blink of an eye I felt my world go from heartache to hell. Something died in me that night. Sadly, unfortunately and unintentionally the home caught fire as well accidentally, although it was unintentionally I feel guilty a lot and pray that GOD help me to be forgiven. Everything was catastrophic and tragic.

Luckily I did not die has it was not my intention to but more about numbing the emotional pain. I was hospitalized for nine months and a week in ICU as I was critical. Technically i was diagnosed as a suicide attempt but I did not intend to kill myself. I was a difficult patient as I was so torn apart emotionally. I shut down and was not keen about life anymore. Part of me knew and knows that this happened but most of me feels and felt like I am and was dreaming. I felt a ghost of a young woman wanted to leave me, jump out of my bones and be done with me. This must be what death feels like. Felt my heart beat to death, I was living to die. How could I have done this to me? Why did I let this happen to me? How can I not love myself enough to not tolerate being mistreated? I realized I missed something, something promised, something so important, something free. And one day I had an epiphany and it hit me right in the face I have a son that needs his mommy, it will not be fair to me or him just to give up on life. He needs me to be here for him, I might not be perfect but I am his mom. I want him to know that I made mistakes and disappointed him and myself and its OK to make mistakes but how you come back and what you learn from that mistake that matters. I suppose everybody has their own baggage it’s just easier when someone gives you a hand. I love my son unconditionally to leave him to be without his mom. I know I am judged a lot but I will say until you walk in my shoes you won’t understand. AND this mistake does not justify who I am and who I want to become .I always thought of this has a curse and thought of finishing off what I had started and thought I had no future but now I have every reason to believe that this happened for a reason. I had thoughts of suicide a lot when I came back home from being in hospital for such a long time and one day I told myself I had to stop being so dramatic. I had a close call to dying and I survived so I figured that I have a purpose to fill and carry out. The reason I believe being about ME learning to love and appreciate myself no matter how I look. For some reason I never loved myself enough, I tolerated being mistreated. But now I see things differently Most people say I am courageous but I say its not courage its love. The love I learned to have for myself and the love of my son and my family and friends. I had to learn to laugh it kept me from crying. I smile because behind and inside me there is someone who wants to cry. But I have shed enough tears, sweat and blood for myself; I do allow myself to cry and breakdown once in a while to release my emotions. There was a time I hated my body, the mirror and that people will look at me and pity me, never really know who I am and want to be. But I know that people are curious and I take it with a warm heart, although I don’t like it. I don’t want to be mis-perceived because of my looks. I believe I have gained more than I have lost. I can’t pretend that I am not torn into pieces but I get so together so no one can get to see the tears I cry and how broken up deep inside I am. My life was complicated and sometimes I think all I have managed to do is complicate it much further. I guess life had to run its cause one way or the other and I am not the one to be pitied.

I want people to know I am not a freak or a bad person I made mistakes like everyone else. I strive to find normalcy again, I survived and I am trying to live the ‘’new normal’’ life. The fire changed me on the outside but has left me beautiful inside and it’s easy to talk about inner beauty but different to live it. And to learn from me that its ok to be in love but don’t forget about yourself and young girls to always know that they are beautiful and worthy of love no matter who they are or how they look. Everyone is worthy and deserving, be proud and accept yourself first. I take responsibility for my life and what has happened how much I take is up to me but I don’t blame anyone. It is said that until you heal your past you will continue to bleed, I still have a long way to go but now I am learning new things about me that I did not notice before, who I am really and I am enjoying my journey and I need a reason to wake up in the morning rather than take care of someone else don’t get me wrong I love my son to death but I also need to take care of myself in the process. In me lives a daughter that smiles and I know some people will wonder why I am smiling, a good mother that loves and a woman who supports after the pain and heartache. And my son is not what went wrong in my life but what saved me. And this is not about me seeking pity but me seeking help, for this tragedy gave me faith that I can accomplish my obstacles and my son will one day be proud that his mom made mistakes but she redeemed and tried so hard to find herself when she was lost and know that with help redemption is possible. I sometime do the walk of shame and guilt still taunt me, I walk around feeling like the world will open up and eat me but something in me is not ready to give up not yet. I still have bad burn scars and horrible disfigurements, severe functional impairment and crippled self-esteem, as I am going down the right path to make peace for and with myself. And peace with the people who were hurt about the incident, I have hurt people that I love because of emotions I could not control and I think that’s selfish, I really feel much remorse for hurting them and hoping I might be forgiven one day as this was not intentional but tragic I am truthfully sorry. I don’t know how to voice my regrets. But I am glad to say that this tragedy have not managed to turn me into a monster emotionally and an angry person towards the world in general. Yes! Sometimes I get angry at people who walked away from me, us when we needed them most but I am glad to say I have people in my life who love me despite my flaws and mistakes and whom I also happen to love and appreciate. I still have burn scars in my heart but I feel GOD in me and I love myself fiercely, for my love is too complicated to have it thrown back in my face. Who I am its inside, its internalized; it’s who I show the world not how I look .AND now I am strong because I am weak sometimes, I am beautiful because I know my flaws. I am fearless because I have been afraid, I am wise because I have been foolish and I can laugh because I have known sadness. All I plead for is to be given second chance in life and be helped because everybody deserves a second chance. Help me make myself a much better person, daughter, sister, friend most of all phenomenal mother because I know I am worthy. Help me help myself to be somebody and proud of myself.

The Zoo Day with Marie Claire

Before too much time goes by, we really need to share the wonderful day we had at the zoo with Marie Claire.

11 February we went to the zoo, as previously mentioned. The day was very informative with all the children learning so much. If there is ever any program we can recommend to parent to send their children on, it is the Honey Badger program at the Johannesburg zoo.

We started off with ice breakers to get the children into little groups and then to allow them to get to know one another. Moving on, we started to collect herbs and all interesting things for the Lion enclosure. Much fun was had by all children, planting herbs and scents as well as leaving delicious treats for the lions in their enclosure while they waited. We moved onto the podium to watch the lions move around and act like little kittens.

The day proceeded with lunch and then more activities doing a rhino wheel. Here they learnt about the rhinos and how to differentiate between the black and white rhino. The Rhino is an animal burn foundation admire and respect. They are the natural fire fighters in nature.

The Marie Claire Team and celebs like Gregg Hammond and Tumi Morake, Dave Levinsohn along with Kim Shulze and Mike Sharman., all got involved assisting the children and having a fun filled day with them. They were able to connect and get to know some of the burn survivors we hold close to our hearts.

Now many people will not be able to make a connection as to why a day like this is so important for the burn survivor. Well; it is a day out, but more importantly they are able to interact with other children and move beyond that vulnerable space they often find themselves in. They feel accepted as ‘just another child’ which is paramount to their psycho social development. A day like this let’s them know there are others out there that really care for them. It gives them future activities to look forward to.

So here is to looking forward to a new outing in the near future.