This is a story about Joseph Tshabalala. A 30-something year old male from Sweetwaters township on the outskirts of Grasmere, Johannesburg. Many years ago, Joseph’s brother was diagnosed with and passed away from HIV & Aids. Joe took it upon himself to foster his brother’s children and take care of them as best he could.

The beautiful story saluting a South African hero was written by David Shields & posted on Facebook yesterday, here is the full transcript.

Although Joe taught himself to be a terrific father and friend to his brother’s kids, he began to notice his newly adopted children were both lonely and sad; not just because of their loss but also because no other kids in the neighbourhood would play with them (thanks to the HIV stigma).

Joe and his amazing wife Nnini had an idea. They began to cook for other kids in the community in the hope that they would come and have an after-school meal, do their homework and get to know these kids as their equals, perhaps even become friends. Their plan worked! Months on and the Tshabalala home became a place of hope, love and care to many children in the Sweetwaters township; so much so that Joseph started fostering other kids in the community as well.

In 1999, he set up a non-profit organization called Net Hiv/Aids Youth Project, which gave him and Nnini the opportunity to foster all the kids in Sweetwaters that were either infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Over the past 16 years, Joseph and his loving family have cared for, fed and helped to educate hundred’s of children in the community. Finance was tough but his family always found a way to put food and medicine on the table, mostly thanks to their ingenuity of buying and selling food items in the area.

As of last month, NET HIV Youth Project was home to about 35 kids, many of whom receive ARV’s and who look to Joe & Nnini for support in every way possible be it food, clothing, medicine or books – it was their job to make it work, and they did it happily.

Joseph Tshabalala – a true South African hero. A father to the community and an inspiration to us all, sadly passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday evening (25th September). He left behind a wife, 3 kids, 35 orphaned children and a gaping wound in the Sweetwaters community. It is sad to see that a man who gave his life to helping others (no matter how little he had) should meet such a devastating end.

Joe took it upon himself to fight the HIV stigma and to care for any child who was neglected in his community. He loved everyone and everyone loved him. He had a smile that lit up the room and a nod of reassurance that always meant everything was going to be OK.

Joseph started the war against apathy, but it is our job to finish it. At a time like this – let us set aside all differences – race, age, privilege and come together to unite with the Tshabalala family. This is our calling; our time to move past all the mumbo jumbo and just be HUMAN BEINGS.

Share your support for this amazing man by donating to HUDDLE UP NPC who will assist Joe’s family and the orphans with food, medicine, utilities etc. until they can find their feet again. Regardless of the amount, your donation will change their lives for the better. Please SHARE this story and let’s get behind a South African family who needs us now more than ever.

Joe, you’ve left a legacy behind. Thank you for all you’ve done, both as a father to your community and an inspiration to us all. Our brother and friend – may your soul rest in peace. Until we meet again.

Here are the Banking Details for “Huddle Up” should you want to make a direct donation.
Bank – FNB
Name – Huddle Up
Acc – 62545359095
Branch – 250355

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Brent Lindeque
About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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