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Friends of Valkenberg

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Jennifer Chigome, We sit and chat in a cozy cafe on a blisteringly cold day in Muizenberg and sip on hot drinks and eat out of the oven cardamom cake.

 We sit and chat in a cozy cafe on a blisteringly cold day in Muizenberg and sip on hot drinks and eat out of the oven cardamom cake. Jennifer starts her story by telling me about her 3 sons, The eldest teaching English in Vietnam, another working in Dubai and travelling the world, the youngest completing his masters at UCT in social development.

 She has smart sons who are good men she says. She even became a granny recently and has a 6 month old grandchild. “They used to call my sons coconuts she jokes, white on the inside and dark on the outside. They appreciate me and what I have done for them”…

Jennifer lives close by in a shared flat where she leads a quiet simple life. She loves to make spaghetti Bolognese she tells me, listen to the radio and go for walks near the vlei. As a volunteer at The  Friends of Valkenberg she travels in by train 3 days a week to work in the Friendly Shop where she’s responsible for receiving all sorts of donations and separating these out into what to sell and at what cost. She loves it she says, loves going in to work and seeing her colleagues who are kind and supportive of her. She’s come a long way, and with grace and humour has recovered from what she calls years of hell.
Born on the 7th June 1962 in a rural village of Zimbabwe, Jennifer was part of a large family of 6 daughters, raised by what she calls an “old-fashioned and hardworking” mother.
She left home at a young age to attend school at Kwe Kwe, and later at the age of 20 trained to become a police officer, serving for 10 years while gradually growing within the ranks. This is where she met and later married her husband and after a few years they left Zimbabwe in the early 1990’s with two young sons Cedric and Rodwell for Cape Town, where he was offered a job in security at SA Breweries in Newlands and a cozy company cottage for the family to live in.
The couple had another son, Joshua whilst making a life in the Cape. Her growing sons were doing well in school, two of them in SACS while she was working as a bank teller supporting them mostly on her humble salary. After some time, Jennifer found herself becoming the primary caretaker of the three children and of the home, experiencing her husband becoming less and less available and more and more distant.
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