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Partners : FXB South Africa
Improves education and life skills of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa, through an After-School “Life Skills” Program aimed at limiting the impacts of poverty and the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has enjoyed a stable economy. However, major social and economic disparities still prevail, with the country having one of the highest rates of inequality in the world. The majority of South African children currently live in extreme poverty characterized by malnutrition, crime, violence, alcoholism and drug abuse.
The situation today, coupled by the devastating economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, will affect children's education significantly.
The number of infections is increasing daily in South Africa. Unfortunately, many people in the country still believe that the coronavirus is a 'white' disease that cannot affect them.
South Africa is also one of the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS– with a staggering 7 million people currently infected, totalling approximately 12% of the population. One of the consequences of this is a very high number of orphaned and vulnerable children. Many families are struggling for survival, and are not always able to provide adequate care and education for their children; many of which often then drop out of school and become exposed to malnutrition, abuse and are then themselves at risk of contracting HIV, with nobody to support them.
In order to address poverty and the growing sanitary crisis, we have introduced and implemented the After-School Life Skills Program in three townships of South Africa - Soweto (Pimville and Orlando), Nigel (Mackenzieville) and Witbank (Emalahleni). These Programs aim to help orphans and vulnerable young people cope with the extreme hardships of their daily lives and to give them the tools they need to live with dignity.
Over 4,000 children have benefitted from our support in South Africa. The programs beneficiaries are referred to us either by teachers, social workers, community members, relatives, or other young people already in the program themselves.
The Life Skills Program specifically addresses the mental distress of vulnerable young people. Through our program, they are provided with necessary basic resources such as stationery, school uniforms, and nutritional support and counselling.The impact of our academic support as resulted in significant increases in school attendance and most importantly, the children reporting they now enjoy going to school and learning. The program is active during school days and school holidays.
Our nonprofit has always promoted hygiene and cleanliness in all programs. When news about the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, we very quickly provided our beneficiaries, their families and the schools where we work with information on the virus and effective prevention methods. While the culture of hand washing is strong in our programs, it has been difficult to make some families adopt such measures as they have complained about wasting soap they cannot afford. We have since made it a regular task to provide all children with bars of soap so that they can continue to practice the barrier gesture of handwashing without additional financial burdens for their families. In addition, before the schools closed and during the COVID-19 lockdown, we also provided families with essential food supplements.
The Life Skills Program is primarily focused on supporting the children’s universal rights, sexual and reproductive health, self-respect, respect for others, knowledge of HIV/AIDS best practices, and support systems for sexual abuse and violence. Such themes are discussed regularly during after-school care sessions.
Our interventions are adapted to each child, creating a global and comprehensive support system for children and youth who engage with our services. The aim of our interventions are to limit the impacts of poverty on the lives of children, enabling them to better cope with daily life and actively plan for their future. The support we provide to the most vulnerable children will be more than ever necessary during and after the coronavirus crisis.
With your support, we aim to continue positively impacting the lives of orphans and vulnerable children through education based solutions, and to ultimately bring about long-term behavioural change within their communities.