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Guest Impressions

The story of Sister Amina

Assalaamu-Alaikum

My name is Amina. I have a brother by the name of Sadiq.

We were abandoned by our parents when my brother was one-year old and I was only three months old!

We were found left near a river in Clairwood. Apparently I was in a shoebox! Those who found us contacted the police and through a social worker we were sent to an orphanage.

My brother and I were separated. I was placed in a non-Muslim care-centre known as the Lakehaven Children’s Home in Sea Cow Lake and my brother was placed at the Darul Yatama wal Masakeen in Sydenham.

I grew up worshipping idols, performing un-Islamic prayers, classical dancing and acting in plays. I also consumed haram (non-halaal) food. I had no idea of this, because I was still a child. However, I was safe, loved, cherished and protected, I was always the favourite. My house-parents adored me. We grew our own vegetables and had a small farm and playground. During December I used to go for holidays,

A Muslim family used to come and fetch me for holidays, and they used to also take my brother for holidays, but I had no idea that he was my brother. As the years went by, we became attached to the family.

Thereafter the family became our foster parents. Since my foster mother was working, we were cared by her sister and niece during the day. At the time we were unaware that our foster parents received grants on our behalf.
Sadly, within a short while the abuse began. We were treated like servants, doing all the cleaning and menial chores of the home.

We went to school without food and wore torn clothes most of the time. We were regularly whipped with a cord. I used to be beaten more, since I spoke out against our ill-treatment. Despite the complaints from the school and neighbours - who felt pity for us - the Social Welfare Society did nothing to redress the situation. It seemed that our foster parents had a good and friendly relationship with some people!

Finally, when the social-grant-officials interviewed us, we were warned by our foster parents not to disclose any of their ill-treatment towards us and any negative vibe about them, otherwise we will be dealt with in the severest way! Sometimes we were deprived of food and never given money as other children were, to spend at school.

At times the treatment was so harsh that chilli-powder was thrown into our eyes and disinfectant (Jeyes) fluid was poured on my hair. I am very ashamed to mention things that we were subjected to do. We were made to deliver alcohol to the bus drivers and conductors which they purchased from our foster parents. Also, we were even forced to serve the alcohol in glasses to those who came to the house. Later on we were told that part of our grant money was used to purchase the alcohol. Once we were severely beaten (head injuries) for serving a police officer with ‘marked’ money.

They even did black magic on their son. We were asked to do crude, cruel, messy and strange things like injecting a fowl with a long pin until it died, and so on.

By the time I reached high school, I just about had had enough and eventually plucked the courage to lay a complaint at the Social Grant’s Office.

Around the same time in my life I fondly remember passing a Madrassah on my daily route home from school. Often I stopped at the Madrassah, curious, with many questions about their activities.
The religious teacher (Apa) was pleasant and friendly and took a liking to me.
I told the Social Grant Office about this Apa and my affinity to her and by the Grace of Allah Ta’ala the Apa eventually adopted me. This was the best thing that happened to me in my life. The Apa took really good care of me and treated me with respect and dignity. This was the first time in my life, that I received “real parental love”.

Unfortunately when I left my foster parents I also left my brother behind. I believe he was abandoned by our foster parents and many years later he had passed on. Up to this day I am deeply affected by the loss of my brother. The years of abuse actually destroyed me and the trauma still looms over me every day.

Going through life I had eventually married and I have a lovely daughter. However, my husband passed on and I was left to raise my daughter on my own. Life has not been easy for me and my daughter, being a single parent with no financial support nor a father for my daughter.
Being abandoned, it is especially difficult when you don’t have a family structure to contact, even if it’s just for moral support.

Through all my trials and tribulations I ended up at Darul Ihsan Centre for assistance.
Alhamdulillah, the organisation assisted me in paying my rent and other necessities. Darul Ihsan Centre gave me assistance when I was most desperate and consequently gave me respect and dignity by doing so. Considering the difficulties we went through, their help had a positive impact on our lives.
I would like to express my sincere and utmost gratitude to Darul Ihsan Centre for their assistance, support and the ‘family’ they have become to me.

With humility, I would like to mention what I have learnt in life so that it can be passed on to others:

1/ Don’t hold any grudges against people
2/ Forgive and forget and move on with your life
3/ Don’t judge people
4/ Respect and value your parents
5/ Unite families - don’t be a cause of disunity and dissension
5/ and, most importantly, if you have your Qu’ran and perform your Salaah, nothing will fail you

(*Name changed for confidentiality)

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