The Family Africa Free Day Care Centre for the children of HIV positive women, orphans and vulnerable children
We have been running a completely free of charge Early Learning Centre for children of women living with TB of HIV as well as orphans and vulnerable children since 2004. The children receive two nutritious meals a day, a good education and health monitoring. We believe this is an excellent way to offer community based support to HIV positive women and also to the grandparents who are left caring for the orphans once the parents have died of AIDS or other causes. Other children who are eligible for this free service are those referred to us by the local Social Development Office after completing a risk assessment. It is impossible to build enough orphanages in Africa because of the sheer numbers. Research shows that in many ways children are best raised within their own extended family, culture and community whenever possible. Community based Free Day Care centres, like The Family Africa’s, give the support that struggling extended family members need to continue caring for the orphans.
Themba (Hope in Zulu)-HIV/Aids Support Group
As there is a terrible stigma attached to HIV/AIDS we initiated an HIV/AIDS support group 5 years ago which would include TB sufferers.
Micro businesses facilitation
Basic skills training
In the township where we work, 90% of TB patients are HIV positive and as there is no stigma attached to TB, we discovered that it meant that patients were happy and willing to be involved in the support group and thereby receive the help they need. All our clients are economically disadvantaged and many depend on the group for their basic food.
This support group has been running successfully since January 2005 and involves skills training and development programmes such as literacy, knitting, sewing, and food gardening and ongoing HIV/AIDS education and other health education. It is community based in the township and we have a chairperson and secretary who are part of the community. Although there are some male members of the group it is mainly women who are benefiting. We also supply nutritious food as a healthy diet is an important to help build up their immune systems and prolong life. We also supply warm clothing and blankets during the winter months when they are most at risk due to their poor health. A very important element of the support group is the spiritual support they receive and the support they give each other. The food garden helps to promote gentle exercise and also provides them with a sustainable food source and a feeling of self worth.
Beneficiaries : 30 >
HIV/Aids Mothers Support Group
The Mother’s Support and Counselling Centre for HIV positive mothers and their children.
In a social environment where there is still a huge stigma attached to HIV/AIDS which normally leads to isolation and in extreme cases can lead to stoning and beatings, our project is highly successful with the mothers coming together and openly discussing their status. Many of the babies are also testing negative due to ongoing education and support.
This project is similar to the TB/HIV group (THEMBA)but with one extra valuable goal and that it to try by all means possible to ensure they receive the correct education so that their babies have an opportunity to be HIV negative. Although some babies are HIV positive due to the mixing of blood at birth there is hope for the other babies to test negative if their mothers are trained and encouraged to maintain the proper feeding and care of their babies. We also help them to build happy memories with their babies and families: giving the mothers short term and long term goals to help the women look forward to the future which helps to prolong life.
We also run a full time free of charge Counselling and Support centre for these women with a food garden, netball team and choir. The women are also encouraged to attend training courses and initiate micro businesses with our support. By volunteering at the Centre the women gain valuable work experience whereby we can provide them with references to help them find work. We also offer assistance to ensure they can obtain the necessary paperwork such as birth certificates and IDs so that they can receive the government grants to which they are entitled.
All of these services mean that the women are being empowered to take control of their lives and put food on the table for their children.
HIV/TB Counselling Centre
Our counselling centre is open 5 days a week and we have a steady stream of people coming for pre and post HIV test counselling along with requests for assistance with many other issues such as abusive relationships or clients in need of practical help to get paperwork done so they can claim grants. We also run a bereavement support group every week for those who have recently lost loved ones.
Child Headed and Gogo (Grandmother) Household Units and Support Groups
Gogo (Grandmother) headed households and Child headed households. South Africa’s HIV and AIDS epidemic has had a devastating effect on children in a number of ways. There were an estimated 360,000 under-15s living with HIV in 2013, a figure that more than doubled since 2001. In most instances the virus was transmitted from the child’s mother. Consequently, the HIV-infected child is born into a family where the virus may have already had a severe impact on health, income, productivity and the ability to care for each other. There are also an estimated 2,400,000 orphans between 0 and 17 years old as a result of HIV/AIDS.
The age bracket that AIDS most heavily targets – younger adults – means it is not uncommon for one or more parents to die from AIDS while their children are young. This has led to Grandmother (or less often Grandfather) led households as well as child headed households. Thankfully now more people are now living with HIV due to the roll out of ARVs but we have still identified a need to give targeted support to Grandmothers who care for orphans and to child headed households as we believe as much as possible children benefit from staying with their families in their communities rather than being brought up in institutions.
For Grandmothers we run a support group every week with skills training, especially literacy and numeracy as many of them grew up during apartheid without opportunity for even a basic education. We also give them health education and food parcels plus other needs such as blankets and toiletries.
Child headed households are given the food parcels and an opportunity to eat at our centre every day. We do home visits to check on the status of the household to identify and supply other necessities and encourage the eldest child to continue with school.
School Age Orphans: Care and Support
South Africa’s HIV and AIDS epidemic has had a devastating effect on children in a number of ways. There were an estimated 360,000 under-15s living with HIV in 2013, a figure that more than doubled since 2001. In most instances the virus was transmitted from the child’s mother. Consequently, the HIV-infected child is born into a family where the virus may have already had a severe impact on health, income, productivity and the ability to care for each other. There are also an estimated 2,400,000 orphans between 0 and 17 years old as a result of HIV/AIDS.
The Family Africa Free Day Care Centre caters for preschool age orphans and gives them a good education and two meals a day but we realised we needed to do something for the school age orphans and so we created a regular support group which supplies them with food, toiletries, blankets, clothing and shoes as well as weekly activities.
Food Voucher Programme for Malnourished Children
Through our Family Health programmes, we have identified children who are underweight and obviously on a poor diet. These children have been weight and height measured and given a general health check by a nurse, who then gives them a food voucher which entitles them to a free dinner every day at The Family Africa Centre. This also gives us the opportunity to monitor their health and conduct home visits.
Teachers HIV Awareness Workshops and Early Learning Seminars
Our teachers’ workshops and seminars invest in the future of thousands of children by empowering teachers in primary schools and pre-schools to be trained in HIV awareness and health guidelines for children. We also conduct Early Learning Seminars for pre-school teachers which are motivational and instructional promoting practical pre reading and writing activities and the basics of teaching reading, writing and numeracy.
Family Health Programmes
Our family Health programmes are held on a regular basis and aim to check the general health of children and their parents in a township or squatter camp. Parents are offered TB and diabetes screening and blood pressure and HIV pre and post test counselling. Children are weighed, measured and checked for health problems, signs of abuse and malnourishment. Malnourished children are placed on our food voucher programme, whenever possible.
Homework Assistance for Underprivileged Teenagers
As a teenager, living in a shack in a township or squatter camp in South Africa, there is nowhere quiet to do your homework and most likely no one who is able to help you if you do not know what to do. Education can be a real key to help you escape the shacks and build a better life but with overcrowded, poorly resources schools and often substandard teaching, how can you get the education you need?
This is why we knew it was imperative that we respond to this need with positive action. We have been running our tutoring for teenagers from the age of 11 up to 18 for several years. We concentrate on mathematics as most of the teenagers with whom we work, hardly know how to do multiplication tables and are still counting on their fingers to work out maths problems at 16 years old. English lessons are also a very important key to job opportunities as it is the language of business here. We need more tutors to keep up with the demand!
Teen Dream Programme Using Music, Drama and Excursions
Life in a squatter camp or township in South Africa can be difficult, challenging and full of hardship. Imagine being a teenager brought up with very few opportunities for fun but surrounded by easily available drugs, sexual abuse, crime and a fight for survival. Our Teen Dream Club gives teenagers a chance to learn to dance, swim, play football, go on excursions and just have fun! With plenty of activities and hot dogs every week, this club gives teens a chance to step out and experience new things in a safe environment.
Support for the Elderly and Vulnerable Families
The Family Africa was asked by the Office of Social Development to initiate a support group for the elderly and vulnerable families in Thabo Mbeki Township, where there is no electricity or sewage disposal. We have been running the project for several years, supplying food, counselling and home visits in this area where there is very little assistance available especially for the elderly who are living in the difficult circumstances living by candle light at night and having to walk to fetch water.
“Building A Stronger Family” workshops are conducted by The Family Africa in response to the breakdown of the family unit, which although a growing worldwide phenomenon, is particularly apparent in the challenging environment of a squatter camp. In the workshops we cover 7 main topics which include the importance of praise and unconditional love to build self confidence and being a positive role model. The workshops also include questionnaires for the parents to encourage them to think deeply about their parenting skills and ways they can improve.