Suzan Mathebule and Joanna Jordan

by Amanda from Johannesburg

Mothers in different circumstances and on different continents share their stories
Suzan and her children inside her new shack
Suzan and her children inside her new shack

Two mothers, two lives, two continents. The story of a mother living in a township in South Africa and a mother living in New York, USA and how they have been connected. A story of hope and love.

Joanna and children in New York
Joanna and children in New York

Suzan (Mathapelo) Mathebule writes to Joanna Jordan:

Mid-April 2007:

Dear family

I want to thank you very much for letting us have our own shack. In my life I have never owned anything. For the first time I have my own door key. My children have their own space. This is all because of the efforts done by you and MaAfrika Tikkun, which has made my life bearable for me.

My four children are now happy and bubbly. The teacher told me the other day that my children are now singing with other children and can listen to instructions. I don't know how to thank you but I know God is watching over you and can see the good work you have done for me and my family.


Mother's Day May 2008:


I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the support that you give me and my children.

This has made me so strong that I even went to check for my status and at least I know what I am dealing with.

I am very happy to be a caregiver because I am able to identify people in the same situation I am in and advice them. I consider myself very fortunate to have you as my foster mother and even if you are far, you still give me unconditional love.

I also want to tell you that we all love you and are very excited that you will be coming to South Africa.

We are all looking forward at meeting you.


Suzan (Mathapelo) Mathebule is a 25-year-old mother of four children under the age of six. She lives in a shack (tin house) in an informal settlement in Diepsloot, a township in South Africa. Suzan is one of the beneficiaries of MaAfrika Tikkun's Angel's Programme in which orphans and vulnerable children and their parent(s) or guardians are supported with basic life necessities, including hot nutritious daily meals, food parcels monthly, school fees and uniforms for children, creche facilities for toddlers, psychosocial support by caregivers and social workers and shack renovation to make the families' lives more comfortable. Visit for more information. When Suzan was a child, she, her mother and siblings had to sleep in public toilets for a year and a half after her parents’ divorce and she was homeless until she met her abusive boyfriend, who refused to let her use birth control. Finally, in April 2007, she and her children were thrown out of her boyfriend's shack in the middle of the night, and MaAfrika Tikkun came to her rescue.

Joanna Jordan of New York, USA, is an Angel in more ways than one. She and her family: Husband Phillippe and their children Antoine, Isabelle and Valentine, have been sponsoring the support of the Mathebule family for over a year. Joanna and Suzan have formed a special bond and they correspond regularly. Joanna also sends gifts to Suzan and her four young children, Margaret (5), Mapheto (4), Lerato (3) and Big Boy (2), which are so appreciated by the family. The love and support that Suzan receives from Joanna and her family are helping her through the tough time she is going through with her health.

May the relationship between the mothers continue to thrive.

Joanna Jordan writes to Suzan (Mathapelo) Mathebule:

Beginning of April 2007:

Dear Suzan,

So happy to hear that the kids are singing and focused on school. Clearly their education is the most important thing now that you have a roof over their head. Look at any books you can find with them…talk to them about nature, talk to them about their country and home…talk to them about all of your positive stories as a little girl growing up.

You have your home…believe it. You have your safety…believe it. Now work on your strength…the stronger you are the stronger your children will be. You are a lioness with your little cubs and they love you. You are their world.

Like you I have been taking Antoine, Isabelle and Valentine to school all week. They are older than yours apart from Valentine (nearly 3) who is a big climber – and is always running up and down and then falling over all over the place. Antoine (12) loves sports – we watched him do a race this week and also Long Jump. He LOVES to skateboard…but I worry when he is out in the street in New York City with his skateboard with his friend Matthew. Isabelle has soccer today – she is 7 and has decided to dress like a tomboy…she is very sweet and when we told her about your family she asked if you could come to her birthday party…but I said you were too far away.

My husband is on business in Paris this week and next week I go to Los Angeles in California on business. My whole office has seen your pictures and everyone is thrilled for you to have a house and have healthy kids.

When we receive your pictures we print them and put them in a book so we can keep a record of the beginning of this beautiful friendship….looks like we will be getting old together…

We love getting your letters and pictures…they are a blessing for all of us that see them.

Life can be beautiful when it is Simple. Wake up with shelter over you. Clean and healthy family enjoying the day. Don’t allow any demons into your head, focus on the positive of the present day – watch your children grow and be proud that you are a mother of the future of Africa. Africa is a beautiful country that has had a lot of hardship – the world knows it and believing in change makes it happen.

Take care.

Mother's Day May 2008:

Dear Suzan

When I first reached out to Ma Afrika Tikkun - it was to find a family of children like my own. I wanted to educate my children with everything to be conscious of children with nothing - recognising that we are all human beings who deserve to be loved.

The Emergency of your story made it fate that your four beautiful children needed our help - and we instinctively knew it was meant to be. When we found out that you were with your kids too - we were so happy because we recognise that children having the luxury of a parent at Ma Afrika Tikkun is rare.

As a 41 year old woman - the idea of being in my 20's with four children with nothing to eat and no where to live is overwhelming to me but you found a way to protect your children and you were even willing to give them up to give them a chance and I respect that so much. Your unconditional love is inspiring to mothers all over the world.

I believe it is fate that you are now a caregiver because your knowledge of life educates your fellow human beings how to be respectful to others.

All mothers all over the world wake up and get their children ready for the day. Receive Joy watching them live in the moment living their day. The simplicity of life is beautiful and how ever long we are blessed to be on this earth - it is a joy for me and my family to be your friend.

Your strength inspires me and for that I am very grateful.


Page created on 6/3/2008 12:01:46 PM

Last edited 1/4/2017 8:46:25 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

BESSY NETSIANDA by Amanda Blankfield
- another hero working with MaAfrika Tikkun
MaAfrika Tikkun - a non-governmental non-profit organisation that works toward the transformation of South African communities by caring for vulnerable children and orphans in townships.