single mothersOver half of our children are being raised by single moms, who must often stretch a single income to cater for every aspect of their children’s needs.

While many of us remain optimistic about the future of our country, there’s a dark shadow cast over the Rainbow Nation, which we simply cannot ignore: too many South African children are growing up with fathers that are physically and emotionally distant, not supporting the next generation of men that will play a key role in our country’s future.

News24* cites research from the Human Sciences Research Council and the South African Race Relations Institute, revealing the heartbreaking statistic that up to 60% of SA children have fathers that are absent for at least part of the time.

“More than 40% of South African mothers are single parents, compared with 25% in the US and a developed world average of just 15%,” adds the article.

So, this Womens’ Month, we’d like to turn the spotlight on those single moms, focusing on the heroic stories of incredible South African women that are raising the next generation on their own.

Bedrock of society

“Being a single mom is surely the hardest task there is,” says Turnberry’s Wendy Bussey, “single moms are responsible for every aspect of the family’s affairs; the finances, the education, their spiritual wellbeing, healthcare, and of course providing the loving, nurturing care that our children need.”

“The high percentage of single moms is testament to the incredible strength of South African women, who collectively form the bedrock of our society,” she adds.

She notes that for single moms, it’s even more important to make wise financial decisions, and protect one’s family against medical and financial catastrophes (as there is nobody else to fall back on).

“Being a single mom means managing the household on one income, stretching the finances as far as they can possibly go. It also means that in cases of sickness or ill-health, mothers simply must recover quickly, to ensure they can earn an income and care for their children.”

Tough enough

To understand more about how Medical Aid and Gap Cover fits into the ‘life of a single mom’, we spoke to Faith, a Turnberry client and a single mother to one son. Faith has raised her son by herself since the age of two, all the way through to today, where at the age of 18 he prepares to step out into the world and begin his adult life.

Watching her son come of age is a proud time for Faith, who describes single parenthood as “very challenging, especially when you are forced to deal with unforeseen circumstances.”

For Faith, these unforeseen circumstances were an anxious period of ill-health, requiring hospitalisation, specialists, and x-rays.

“I needed to make upfront payments, and to pay for co-payments,” she says, “but with Gap Cover in place, the money was paid back into my account within 5 days.”

This rapid turnaround time was crucial, she explains: “without those payments, I would have had to cut costs in terms of the food in the house, or not pay other bills, or take out credit cards.”

“As a single parent, you quickly realise just how important it is to manage the money in the house. We’ve all heard about people who have been blacklisted by doctors when they were unable to pay. But being blacklisted will affect your whole life – you might not be able to get that home loan or that car loan that you need.”

Instead of spending all of her savings on expensive medical care, Faith says she has always been able to provide for her son’s needs – especially the likes of school uniform, textbooks, extra-mural activities and sports, and school outings.

Being a single mom is certainly tough enough, but Faith says that without Gap Cover, her life would have been “even more complicated”.

She says that while it isn’t always easy to explain the importance of Gap Cover to her friends and to other parents, she describes it in a similar way to car insurance: “You may not feel like you need it when everything is going well, or when you are healthy. But those unforeseen circumstances can happen, and when they do, they can hit you very hard.”