A Tribute to Mrs Gloria Xaba

Heather Liebenberg news

Seed of Hope started in response to the devastation from HIV/Aids in 2003. Gloria Xaba joined the team near the very beginning as a volunteer, helping those who were sick to get medical care at home or taking them to the hospital. She also delivered food parcels and clothing to families in crisis. For many years she headed up our Social Services department helping people apply for their ID documents to qualify for Anti Retro Viral treatment and grants as well as referring them to other organisations as needed. She also helped the support groups with sewing and handicrafts.

In 2018 she saw a dream fulfilled in the creation of our Elderly Empowerment Program.

Each week forty or so gogos (grandmothers) from the community came to share, learn, laugh, cry, and pray together, which resulted in many incredible stories of answered prayers. She encouraged them with small business ideas such as making beautiful items out of recycled plastic bags to sell and selling second-hand clothing.

Gloria loved her gogos,

and even during this lockdown period was busy delivering food parcels to those in need in the community. She always encouraged people to do what they can to improve their situations and so included seed packages in our food deliveries. Before long we were seeing the results of abundant harvests!

Everyone loved and respected Gloria.

She was known for her honesty, courage, compassion, and wisdom, and was a mother to many. It was a great honour and blessing to have her as a close friend and to minister with her for the past fifteen years.

Isaiah 61:1-3

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

The name Gloria means ‘glory, praise and honour to God’.  

She was a tree of righteousness, planted by the Lord in the community of Bhekulwandle that He may be glorified through her care and restoration of those around her.

In the playground at Seed of Hope we have a large, strong, Flamboyant tree which has roots driven deep into the ground as a result of many storms through the years. Gloria was like this tree, she was solid and strong. The storms of chronic ill health caused her to grow her roots of faith deep into God’s love and strength, but it never stopped her from serving others.
Each year the tree is covered in bright red flowers displaying the beauty of God’s creation. Gloria, too, was beautiful, always looking lovely and radiating joy with her laughter.
The wide branches of the tree provide shade, a refuge from sun or rain where we share our lunches as well as our dreams, fears, joys and sorrows. It creates shelter for children to play under, and food for the birds and other creatures. Likewise, Gloria provided a safe place for many people in crisis, she listened and gave generously of her wisdom to build others up.

Already we feel her absence deeply, 

but while our hearts are breaking, we know that she is home safe with Jesus enjoying her new healthy body and surrounded by the wonder of heaven and the majesty of God. She is reunited with loved ones that have gone ahead. I imagine that Derek, my late husband, is enjoying showing her around her new environment.

We do not grieve as those without hope. Our faith in Jesus assures us that this is not our final good-bye, but rather “Hamba Kakhle, Mam Xaba”, until we meet again on the other side.

Photo credit Kerry Wiens and Eleanor Ronquest

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