Building a Hopeful Society by Supporting Children Now

In South Africa, about 60% of the population struggles in poverty while the unemployment rate among the younger generations exceeds 50%. With 7.1 million people tested HIV-positive, which is by far the largest number in the world, the country continues to see ‘AIDS orphans’ who lost their parents due to HIV/AIDS. Lacking fundamental support from adults in the communities, such children from poor backgrounds in rural areas face lots of challenges in their daily lives, even just in securing food. We work in Mphego village, Thulamela municipality, Vhembe district, Limpopo Province and help such orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) through supporting a facility called the Drop-in Center (DIC), which is a publicly operated space run by care volunteers, a group of people consisting mostly of women in the community.

Activities in 2022

Training for improving the quality of care and empowerment

We provided care volunteers with training to improve the quality of care for the OVCs (training on human rights and first aid), and also those to make the content of the program more entertaining, adjusting to each of the age groups of the OVCs. We also conducted a counseling training where approximately 30 guardians learned the kind of appropriate support for the OVCs both at home and in their communities. On a separate note, 46 youths who daily attend the DIC participated in a leadership and life-skills training where lessons on teamwork, human rights, and one’s responsibilities were taught through a five-day camp.

First aid training for the care volunteers

Gardening with the care volunteers

To ensure that OVCs have a stable source of food, we worked with care volunteers to create a vegetable garden at the DIC. Care volunteers planned the cultivation and maintained the garden while learning how to grow five or six different kinds of vegetables, beans, and maize at any given time. We also established another garden at the DIC for the youths to manage it by themselves. The youths were then provided with training on producing compost. At times the weather caused poor harvests, we were able to spare food for school lunches from these gardens, while also facilitating a simple irrigation system for future threats.

A five-day camp leadership training for the OVCs

Children working on farming

Results and challenges in 2022

Enhancement of care support for the OVCs and their behavior change

Issues faced by OVCs are now being identified and appropriately addressed by the care volunteers and community stakeholders, through which a care support system for OVCs is being established community-wide. The attitudes and the behaviors of the youths attending the DIC have also changed, with some taking the initiative to help family members at home and others increasingly attending school to commit to their academics. In the future, we will further deepen the relationship between the care volunteers and OVCs to ensure the sustainable operation of the DIC, that is – the care volunteers and others are able to plan the programs fully on their own. The current activities must be maintained for some time before the activities at the DIC are truly rooted in the community.

Children taking part in the DIC activities

Activity plan for 2023

Toward the completion of the program

JVC will continue to (1) provide training to the care volunteers and promote cooperation among the community stakeholders, (2) train the care volunteers to improve their activity programs, (3) conduct leadership and life skills camps for the youths, and (4) promote gardening among the care volunteers and the youths. In each of these activities, we will focus on monitoring, follow-up, and participants’ exchange to ensure that learning deepens and gets rooted in the community. As the fiscal year 2023 is the final term of JVC’s South Africa program, we will conduct a final evaluation and aim to complete all procedures to localize the office.

Learning to build up teamwork

True delicacy!

Voices and Messages

My behavior has changed

Ankonisaho Dama & Evans Rasibvumo

Youths at the DIC

I previously did not listen to what the care volunteers said. I was also often warned for pushing little children away to obtain lunch first. However, I gradually learned to respect others, including both the care volunteers and my fellow participants. Now I try to wait and let little children take their food first. I am looking forward to eating the homegrown vegetables. (Ankonisaho Dama, 16 years old)

I did not like the activities at the DIC before and did not participate much. Now I attend it every day because the content of the activity programs has improved so much that it is now entertaining. Through the lessons, I learned the importance of respecting elders, including my parents. My behavior has changed dramatically. (Evans Rasibvumo, 15 years old)

Ankonisaho Dama

Proactive trials over passiveness

Moses Shavhani

Project assistant in charge of finance

The OVCs acquire discipline by participating in the activity programs. Learning to build relationships with one another also helps them avoid isolation. Regarding the care volunteers, they have come to understand the importance of the home gardens, which is a big change from previous years. They now take the initiative and put things into practice on their own instead of waiting for instructions. They have also started planning by the needs of the DIC, for example, by increasing the harvest of beans to enhance the lunch program. Parents are now happy that their children are more likely to help with the household chores without any prompting and are also more self-motivated in their schoolwork since they returned from the leadership and life skills camp.

[Source: JVC Annual Report 2022]

Share This: