Did you know that, even though South Africa has a well developed economy and is rich in mineral resources, certain regions and population groups within South Africa count among those hardest hit by disease and poverty in the world? In the Township Soshanguve where we are primarily working they have an unemployment rate of way above 50% and an HIV infection rate as high as 30%. The majority of those dying from AIDS are between the ages of 20 and 40, many of whom are parents leaving a great number of orphans. Within the next few years there will be two million orphans in South Africa. It is estimated that there are 11 000 “child-headed” households in South Africa where the oldest child is between 10 and 14 years old and 150 000 households where the oldest child is between 15 and 19 years old. The responsibility for smaller siblings keeps the youth away from school and often results in prostitution and crime. On the other hand the situation is somewhat better where the extended family members such as grandmothers, aunts or old women from the neighbourhood take care of some of the orphans, despite themselves lacking the basics.
We believe that we will be giving children a voice which they themselves don’t have in their present situation, and we will be helping them grasp their rights as individuals. Furthermore, we aim to encourage them to establish a vision and to set personal goals which will develop good character.
Orphan Care Centres help to reduce the hardships faced by orphans, taking them off the street, getting them into school, and giving them back their childhood! As a Swiss trust we have acquired great acceptance with the local authorities as well as in the community. In cooperation with the American Foundation Kerus Global Education and the South African organizations Go-Amogela and Acts2Change we have developed a comprehensive programme focused on sustainable child development. The model not only changes the lives of individuals but also shows positive results within the local community. Together with these partner organizations we currently take care of approximately 240 orphans and we work closely with three primary schools.
Each Orphan Care Centre serves up to 100 children. We provide children with healthy food after school hours and organize medical checks and psychological care on an individual basis. Furthermore, homework assistance and support for children seeking direction or counselling is provided by teachers and selected care givers. In small projects the children are taught the benefits of personally investing in something and they are taught how they can take personal responsibility for their decisions. Where possible the children are trained in art and handcraft, gardening skills, computer skills and in other vocations. Of course we make sure that the orphans get to enjoy playing games and having fun, as well as receiving individual care. We support the needy foster mothers who are taking care of one or more orphans, and we support child-headed families with care packages.