Thembanani and Hlanganani CLAs’ OVC Programme

Thembanani OVC Project

Food Parcels

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Above left: Thembanani OVC team with a USA donor team taking the food parcels to one of the OVC homes.
Above right: an OVC household – two orphaned children & a grandmother.

During this reporting period (March -May 2015), the Thembanani OVC project bought food parcels for 15 OVC households per month. The women noted that these food parcels have been helping ensure that the children do not go to school with empty stomachs. Also, the support with food parcels helps to subsidise the guardians’ income which is usually a pension/social grant.

Toy library

There were a number of children that played at the toy library in this reporting period. Some funds were generated by charging children who are not OVC. The funds raised from these minimal fees goes towards maintenance and replacement of the toys.

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Above: children at play at the toy library

Gardens

There were no new gardens started in this reporting period. The focus was on maintaining the four existing gardens which are functioning very well and have healthy vegetables. One of the gardens is in an area that is experiencing severe water shortages. The women advised the household to use the bath water after use and make sure it is poured onto the roots not on the leaves as that might destroy the vegetables.

OVC Guardians joining the Self Help Groups

There was one guardian who joined the Self Help Group programme and became a member of one of the groups in Swayimane. This guardian says that she is very happy to be part of a Self Help Group. She thinks it will help her significantly, to be in the company of other women and share ideas.

School  performance

In this reporting period, the Thembanani women visited three schools to check on the children of their OVC project. The women found that the children were doing well and the teachers were happy to see the women and hear about their organisation that encourages the learners in a manner that they have never seen before. As the women visited the schools, the children under the women’s care, excitedly testified of the assistance they have received through the women, enabling them to go back to school. The children spoke of how they could not attend school without proper school uniforms and how this made them lose hope of continuing their schooling until the women stepped in to help them. In one of the schools the women found that a child had a problem of absenteeism. The women decided to visit the child’s household. The women conducted some counseling sessions with the guardian to find out the reasons why the child was missing school and also highlighted the importance of education and the seriousness of the penalty that the school was imposing on the child. The school had told the women that the child would be deregistered if their school attendance did not improve.

The women also spent time counseling the child regarding his schooling. They encouraged him and stressed the importance of continuing his education.

Social grants

In this reporting period, the Thembanani women followed up on two children that were disadvantaged because they were staying with other families in the community. The guardian that was receiving their social grants was staying somewhere else so the money was not benefitting the children at all. The women approached the Department for Social Development and they were asked to find the children’s certificates and the Department would cancel the grant from being received by that particular guardian.

Training for
the month

Type of training            No. of participants  who attended
Children’s Rights 22 children4 grandmothers
Bible Study 22 children4 grandmothers
Games 20

The women noted that the children were writing examinations in March, and so the women did not want to disturb them with training. The children are enjoying playing games and the guardians are also happy because they are able to continue with their activities while the children are at play. During May the children played with the Zimele overseas teams that visited the OVC project and the community of Swayimane.

Meetings

The Thembanani OVC women had several meetings during this reporting period with many of them about the project land allocation that they were pursuing with their Local Tribal Authorities. This came to a close when they finally received the land in May.

The women also realised that the set time of six months for working with the children was coming to a close, so the women conducted meetings to discuss a strategy of how they were going to add new beneficiaries to their programme.

Home visit

The Thembanani OVC women conducted a number of home visits to the households of children that they were working with in this reporting period. On one occasion they visited 3 households with Zimele overseas visitors from the USA. With two households, the purpose of the visit was to give out food parcels and for the other one it was to share the difficulties of children walking long distances to school in the morning.

Some of the activities shared with the children in their homes were one-on-one lessons (depending on the area of need) and also motivation.

Challenges

After obtaining land from the Local Tribal Authorities to build an OVC care centre, the Thembanani OVC project has been met by hostile opposition from a community religious group. This group has filed an injunction with the Tribal Authorities demanding that the apportioning of the land be reconsidered. This has brought a halt to all the building and construction that was supposed to start on the site. The matter is being handled by the Traditional Authorities and it is hoped that it will soon be resolved. The women are frustrated with these developments but are still keeping their hopes high and looking forward to the finished structure of their Centre.

Hlanganani OVC Project

Food Parcels

In this reporting period (March – May), the Hlanganani OVC women provided monthly food parcels to 10 households per month (see below)
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One of the households provided with food parcels had reached the closure of the six month food parcel scheme. The women had to announce to the household that it was time to move on to help other households. The household was thankful for the help they have been receiving in the past months. They were sad though to know that they would no longer be receiving food parcels but were glad to know that other people would also be getting help. The guardian of the household receives a child support social grant but she has a sick child that goes to the doctor frequently and all the money is taken up by transport expenses.

When another visit was conducted, the women found that there was a problem with the garden. The children had left the gate open and goats from the neighbourhood got in and ate all the vegetables. The women offered to put together money to buy seedlings so that the household could replant the vegetables.

Another of the households provided with food parcels had just lost its surviving guardian, leaving behind an orphaned grandson. This child was left with no means to acquire food because there would be no further pension or social grant after his grandmother’s death. The women intervened by providing him with food parcels.

Home visits

The Hlanganani OVC project women conducted a number of home visits to the children’s households that they have been working with in this reporting period, supporting them in various ways:

Gardening skills

While visiting the children and trying to support them emotionally, the women also focused on encouraging them to start gardens for those that had none and monitoring the progress of gardens that they had helped to start. Most of the gardens that were established had water shortage problems. Some of the households that had no gardens complained of their land being very hard which made it difficult for them to plant.

One of the households visited had received vegetable seedlings from the Department of Agriculture which they planted and they have started eating the produce. The downfall observed by the women of this household was that they were eating the vegetables but had not planted anything new; meaning once the current produce is finished there will be nothing else to eat. The women then emphasised to this household the importance of growing their vegetables in staggered stages so that while they eat some, there will be some growing for them to eat in the future.

Housing

A household visited had a problem in that their house was falling down. This is a child headed household with the eldest, a girl who does not stay permanently at the house but moves from place to place like a homeless person, leaving the young ones alone. On the day of the visit, the women were fortunate to find the eldest child at home. The problem they noted was that she does not want to cook and clean and she expects the smaller children to do all the household chores. The women decided that they would help this family by making mud blocks to build a house for them since it is heading towards winter and there is no adequate accommodation for the children.

Identity Documents

One of the households visited during this reporting period was to see a child whom the women had bought school uniforms last year. The grandmother did not have an identity document. The women helped the grandmother obtain an identity document and she is now receiving an old age pension/social grant. With this grant she can now afford to buy food for her household and is very grateful to the women for the role that they played.

Illness interventions

One Sunday, the women were called out by a family where there is an orphan who is on ARV (anti-retroviral) medication for HIV/AIDS. The child was very sick so the women helped to organise that he goes to hospital. The women then conducted follow up home visits to see how he was doing after being dischargedl. The women were encouraged by seeing him recovered and at home continuing taking his medication.

Another household the women visited with illness challenges was one with a child whose parents had died from HIV/AIDS. The child is on ARVs (AIDS treatment) and is also disabled. The child’s disability social grant has been cut off because he no longer goes to school. The reason he does not go to school is because he is constantly sick. The women are trying to help the grandmother to get the disability social grant for the child. They are going to discuss the matter in the next ‘War Room’ (Community Local Government debate forum) that is going to be held on the 9th of July. The relevant stake holders will be in attendance including the Department of Social Welfare and social workers.

Skills Development

In one of the households visited, the male guardian recently got a three-month temporary job. He then asked the women to train his family in craft work because he lives with his late sister’s children and his wife does not do anything to earn a living. The women invited his wife to join the new Self Help Group of orphan guardians that started saving in the first week of June after the members received their pension/social grants.

Other activities:

  • On the 26th of May 2015, the Thuthukani OVC women held a meeting with the guardians of orphaned children and the children themselves to start a savings group with them.
  • On the 28th of May 2015, the Thandanani OVC women visited a high school to see if the children they are working with are attending school regularly.

Challenges

The Hlanganani OVC project is having difficulties with ensuring some sustainability strategies with the households it is caring for once the six months of assistance is up. The communities that the project services have a huge challenge with water shortages, therefore, the gardening skills that the women are introducing to households cannot be effectively implemented. However, the women are now working towards mobilising guardians and children into Self Help Groups with the hope that they would realise other livelihood strategies.

In conclusion

It is always encouraging to hear and witness the great work that the Thembanani and Hlanganani OVC women are doing in their communities. They are living a life of sacrifice for the sake of the children under their care so that they can create hope and a positive future. Zimele is grateful to For Children for the partnership and financial support given to the OVC projects.

Report by: Audrey Matimelo Programmes Director

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