South Africa is the country with the most unequal society in the world. The younger generation under the age of 35 is especially facing a serious situation with an unemployment rate exceeding 50%. The country is also home to the world’s largest number of people living with HIV and AIDS, and one in five adults is infected. We cannot see an end to seeing children becoming AIDS orphans. Under these severe social conditions, about 70% of children under 14 years old are living in poverty. Children from poor families in rural areas face major challenges as well as losing their parents, such as limited access to food while their relatives or guardians are away from home for migrant work. A vicious cycle of the social situation continues across generations. Thus, we are supporting children from difficult family backgrounds.
Stories from Our Activities
“A friend of mine invited me to the Mphego Child Care Center and I have been visiting there since 2018. At the center, Care Volunteers help me with my homework and teach me the importance of making myself neat and living a decent life. Now, I feel that I no longer have to worry about peer pressure* from other children of my age and I can make decisions on my own. Since JVC began to collaborate with the Mphego Child Care Center, I have been receiving training on how to create a vegetable garden to get food. I have enjoyed working in the field and created a small vegetable garden in my yard. I am looking forward to the harvest!”
* Peer pressure is a psychological pressure to conform to the values and ways of others such as from people of the same generation.
Support for children living in difficult family environments
Outline of Activities
In every region of South Africa, there are orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) from difficult family backgrounds such as those experiencing poverty and absence of guardians, including the impact of AIDS.
Child Care Centers (hereinafter “Centers”) are public facilities where OVC aged five to early 20s can drop by after school to play, study, and get necessary support. The Centers are run by “Care Volunteers” who are mainly women from the community but most of them do not have opportunities to receive trainings, and therefore do not have enough knowledge and skills to provide care for OVC. We are currently running a project with the Mpego Child Care Center in a village in Limpopo Province, which is considered the “poor province” in South Africa. We provide trainings on the following topics to Care Volunteers (1, 2, 3) and OVC (3, 4): (1) how to take care of OVC, (2) how to conduct activity programs to provide OVC with opportunities to learn and play, (3) how to grow vegetables using natural farming methods to provide healthy meals to OVC every day at the Center, (4) life skills and leadership through learning about HIV/AIDS, human rights, and social issues. We are aiming to stop the vicious cycle in the future by helping OVC to understand the current issues, support each other, and to think and take action by themselves while addressing and supporting their current challenges.
While we could conduct activities (1) and (3) smoothly, we could not carry out activities (2) and (4) due to the impact of COVID-19. In activity (1), trainees learned about child neglect, trauma, counseling methods, and HIV/AIDS. Care Volunteers began to observe OVCs more carefully at the center and during home visits. Consequently, they can now notice and respond to the incidents and problems of OVCs that they had previously overlooked. Guardians and residents also report the problems faced by OVCs. Therefore, Care Volunteers collaborate with community members to care for and support OVCs. As for activity (3), Care Volunteers provide meals for the centers throughout the year, making use of the harvest from the vegetable gardens and the donations from local schools and companies.
[Source: JVC Annual Report 2021]Share This: