CLAW volunteer does all she can to give back

Thando, pictured here with her son Mack, is a regular and committed CLAW volunteer.We’re off on a call to rescue a dog, and in the back of the CLAW twin-cab is a tiny boy, just three months old, snuffling in his mother’s arms. As we deal with the dog, Mack will be passed from person to person to keep him safe and happy, chuckling and looking around him with huge brown eyes, as his mom gets involved in helping with the rescue.

Thando Myeni lives with her partner and the baby’s father Mack Malekanyo on Durban Deep, just a few hundred metres from CLAW’s clinic premises.

Thando, who has two other children, beautiful little girls of five and nine, is a regular volunteer at the clinic, and says that the impact on her life has been huge.

“I just started to come here to ask for food parcels,” she says. “I’m not working and the government grants for the children all go to pay for their schooling. I started to help – just so I can do something.” The local children all come to CLAW on Sundays for games, a book reading (usually done by CLAW stalwart and founder Cora Bailey), and a sing-song – anything that will stimulate their little minds. “I started singing with the children and then I started teaching them and drawing with them.”

When Cora went overseas, Thando practically took over the Sunday activities for four weeks and made lunch for the kids. “I love being with the children, it makes me happy.” Mack senior often volunteers alongside her, and helps by changing Mack junior’s nappies.

As a child, Thando dropped out of school at a young age to care for her three siblings, one of them disabled, so she’s a natural nurturer (and under very deprived circumstances, she managed to ensure two of her brothers got their Matric).

She and Mack left their North West home to look for work in Johannesburg in 2006, and for a while Mack had good jobs with international companies, while Thando worked in a restaurant and a coffee shop. The economic crash had ripple effects which resulted in both of them ending up without work, and they’ve been unable to find more. CLAW’s food parcels have been literal lifesavers … but so has the sense of purpose and hope that being a CLAW volunteer brings with it.

And the dog they went to rescue that day? He’s glossy and handsome after being fed back to health at CLAW’s Durban Deep Clinic, where he’s surrounded by caring people like Thando.

--MS

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