WCRP AIDS Interfaith Forum : eKhaya Project
The E-Khaya project is an initiative of the World Conference on Religions for Peace (WCRP) Interfaith AIDS Forum. WCRP is an international organization with representatives in more than fifty countries and status at the UN.
Most of the studies that have been carried out in the past two years indicate that there must be an holistic approach to the question of AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children. Surveys also point to the fact that community –based programmes are in most cases more acceptable than institutionalization.
STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION
COST OF SETTING UP THE PROJECT
The cost of setting up the community-based programmes are usually considerably cheaper then building an institution. The cost of setting up a community project, depending on what structures are in place , would be between R100,000-00 and R500,000-00. The most important aspect of this holistic approach is that it not only takes care of the vulnerable children in a very positive way, but also builds capacity for the community. We believe that the project could allow communities to sustain themselves and even develop within three to five years.
PANEL OF PATRONS
WCRP Interfaith AIDS Forum is setting up a panel of religious and business leaders who will be patrons and trustees of the project. The religious leaders will be drawn from all the Faith communities that are part of the Forum – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Bahai and Jewish. It was felt that donors would feel happier about investing in the project if they knew that there would be an eminent group of leaders who would monitor the programme.
CRECHE IS THE STARTING POINT
One would start with providing a crèche for pre-schoolers and after-school care and meals for the school -going children. The reason for this is that many older children, particularly from child-headed households, are not attending school because they need to care for the little children in the family. Even if there is a grandparent or caregiver, very often there are too many children for the Granny to care for , so the older child stays home and does not receive an education.
SKILLS TRAINING AND INCOME GENERATING PROJECTS
At the time of starting the crèche , or even prior to this, a vegetable, fruit , nuts and soya garden would be planted. This would be the basis of feeding the young people. This planting project , if successful, could be developed into at least providing basic nutrition for the community and at best an income generating project.
Management and life skills as well as skills that could be used to generate income would be facilitated.
Mentoring of the child-headed households, assistance for the communities with issues such as paralegal help for accessing of grants for the children, activities for the teens and adult literacy education could all
The first site being developed is at Mavela in Ndwedwe, an area where we have identified some 300 AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in the area. Ndwedwe as a whole has a huge unemployment rate – in some parts as high as 70%, so the need to provide some kind of capacity-building programme is essential if we are to succeed in making the project viable.
SETTING UP THE PROJECT
ISSUES TO DECIDE ON PILOT SITE
Issues that were considered in deciding on where to begin a pilot study included:
COMMUNITIES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT
Various religious organisations and NGO's have agreed to assist with the setting up of the crèche and after-care programmes , mobile clinics , skills training programmes as well as helping with the equipping of such centres.
It is vital that we ensure the continuation and upkeep of these programmes once they are launched. They must become sustainable and self-supporting. To this end we need to investigate ways of creating income generating projects. It is also important for the community to feel empowered and that they are people of value and worth.
IDEAS FOR EMPOWERING THE COMMUNITY
A legal agreement has been drawn up to be signed by the various stakeholders. This is to safeguard any possible disputes at a later stage , so that money that had been spent on the project would not be lost to the community.
Ndwedwe eKhaya project for HIV AIDS Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children
Land has been made available for the planting programme and clearing of such has already begun.
We are also trying to get funding to set up a second large room either by building a room or by erecting a container room or Gemini hut. This would cost about R30,000-00. The room would be used for the after care programme and also to increase the number of children in the crèche.
The programme will be initiated in three phases:
1ST PHASE -_ ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CRECHE, AFTER-SCHOOL CARE, MENTORING PROGRAMME AND A PLANTING PROGRAMME
PHASE 2 - EXTENSION OF DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME & SKILLS TRAINING
PHASE 3 – UPGRADING OF PROGRAAMES FOR CHILD-HEADED HOUSEHOLDS AND OTHER VULNERABLE CHILDREN
It is envisaged that this project should take from three - five years to become self -sustaining.
The Mavela crèche was launched by the middle of February 2003.
The site is fully fenced. The building was in reasonable condition , although the roof should be replaced since it is constructed from asbestos and there is no ceiling. The dust from the asbestos causes people to cough and find breathing difficult.
The crèche building was been painted by some of the youth from WCRP and the Mavela community. They have also painted beautiful murals on the inside walls of the main building. All paint was donated.
The toilet facilities are extremely basic ,being of the “long drop” kind. They need repairs. The water tap in the kitchen also needs repairing and a proper sink needs to be put in place. The tap outside is working well and can be used for watering the vegetables.
There is a jungle gym which needs painting. This is being done.
Much equipment has been donated in the form of toys, towels, pillows, food, kitchen equipment, small chairs and tables, blankets, carpets, curtaining and resource materials. Anew fridge, stove trestle tables and two cupboards were donated to equip the kitchen.
We are looking to build or erect another room in the form of a container room or Gemini hut. This would allow another 30 children into the crèche.
We also wish to build a large covered verandah for the older children to use for homework and having a meal on their return from school.
The families of child-headed households will also require assistance with school fees and food for the weekends and holidays. We shall have to investigate how this can be done. Some food could be provided through the planting programme once we start harvesting.
We have some 250 vulnerable and/ or orphaned children from the Mavela area. However , at this stage we shall only be able to cater for a maximum of 42 children in the crèche and probably another 35 –40 in the afternoon care project. This is actually going to make it very crowded, but these children are all extremely vulnerable and it is not possible to turn them away.
NB: The Tribal Courthouse at Mavela has extra rooms and the Induna has I allowed us to use them for storage and also for meetings when the crèche is filled with the little children.
Skills training workshops have been started with fabric painting, card –making, crochet, sewing and bag making as well as new ways to use traditional beadwork.
We have been meeting with Nyuswa community members to set up the centre in Nyuswa which will start in a similar way to the way that Mavela did.
Both communities are extremely enthusiastic and keen to do something constructive and positive. They have a group of more than 20 volunteers each who are assisting.
The unemployment rate in Ndwedwe is way over the country average, with some surveys saying that it is as high as 70 – 80 % These programmes will benefit not only the orphans and vulnerable children , but the whole community.
No of AIDS orphans& OVC’s
Following is an article from JTA — The Global News Service of the Jewish People. For in-depth coverage of the latest developments affecting Jews all over the world, click: www.jta.org
AIDS PROGRAM MODELED ON KIBBUTZ AIMS TO HELP SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDREN
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Sisterhood Joins WCRP in eKhaya Project
The E-Khaya (my home in Zulu) project is an initiative of the World Conference on Religions for Peace (WCRP )Interfaith AIDS Forum which is based on the Kibbutz system. WCRP is an interfaith organization active in 50 countries throughout the world. The main thrust of its work is peace, justice and human rights. At the present time working with children in all three areas is a major part of its work, particularly in South Africa.
E-Khaya has an holistic approach to the question of AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children and aims to alleviate the devastation wreaked by the pandemic in the province of KwaZulu-Natal by building capacity in the community through various support programmes.
It was felt that separating AIDS orphans reinforces the whole situation of stigma and discrimination. By caring for all the vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the community one does not discriminate against any group .
The programme grew out of the WCRP Interfaith AIDS Forum and the Hope for Africa Children Initiative (HACI ) programmes. Through this work, it became apparent to her that a group in great need were AIDS orphans, some of whom, at 12 or 13 years old, were heads of households with sole responsibility for their younger siblings.
The idea came to me as a result of the kibbutzim that I visited and those that the sisterhood has worked for. I really believe that when communities are in great need, this is one of the best ways of utilizing the resources that are available.
Kwazulu Natal is an area of South Africa said to be the hardest hit by AIDS, with more than a million AIDS or HIV-positive patients.
The project operates in black rural communities, many of which are severely impoverished, with unemployment rates of between 60 percent and 80 percent and a lack of basic facilities such as electricity and running water.
The first programme opened its doors in Mavela, Ndwedwe in early February this year and we hope to open a second one in Nyuswa later this year..
An important aspect of E. Khaya is communal ownership and responsibility and the ability for workers to eventually care for the AIDS orphans through projects such as the income generating co-op that has been set up as well as the food garden which was started in February when the center opened. Earlier projects controlled by donors collapsed once the donors relinquished control or funds dried up.
Recent UNICEF and U.N. surveys with regard to care of orphans and vulnerable children recommend the caring for orphans and vulnerable children in their communities, as opposed to institutionalizing them.
In most cases, these orphans have been through tremendous trauma — they have often nursed parents who have died, as well as caring for their siblings. This is a way of minimizing it.
There are more than 70 children in Mavela’s creche, where children 18months to 6years, who are not yet at school, can be dropped off in the morning to be fed and cared for during the day. When the heads of child –headed households come to pick up their siblings in the afternoon, they are given a meal too.
A number of individuals and organization have been involved in the setting up of the crèche and center as well as providing seeds, equipment and machinery to community volunteers so they can plant crops, ensuring a steady supply of fresh produce. Mention must be made of MCDI , a health NGO whose social worker Zanele Buthulezi , has worked some miracles in getting the community organized. I cannot stress enough , how important it is that the whole community take ownership and responsibility for the project, from the Nkosi (Chief ) down.
We are extremely grateful to Sisterhood for all their support with this project, particularly in helping to equip the kitchen. They donated a fridge/freezer, two tables and two metal cupboards. This has assisted in the running of the crèche on a daily basis and also helped for meetings of the community, since the center is used for meetings of the community when the children are not at school.
Sisterhood is also involved in another aspect of E. Khaya that provides a “time out” for care-givers These are people in the community who care for sick members who are AIDS patients or those suffering from other prevalent diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria. “Time out” provides for the carers to be “entertained “ and given a break from caring once every two months.
We hope that our income-generating project which will be the producing bags, simple clothing and educational toys, including puzzles with an African theme will be successful, once it gets of the ground. We are planning to have lovely goods for the festive season.
When I was on a recent trip to the United States, I spoke to a number of the Sisterhood chairs and a couple that have indicated their willingness to assist in marketing ethnic products . This would be a fantastic opportunity and we shall certainly be looking at how this could be done..
There also is a paralegal program to train individuals to help others access government grants — an uphill battle when most rural inhabitants do not have birth, marriage or death certificates and grants can not be given without documents.
While AIDS relief and building capacity in the community is the program’s primary focus, there are other advantages. The fact that women from Sisterhood and the Union of Jewish Women as well as from other organizations visit the center and talk and share with the women is a very good a good way of integrating communities. Many of the urban women have never been out to rural communities and vice versa, many of the rural women have never been into the city.
We have taken the first steps but we still have a lot of things to work through as a result of the years of apartheid. As our sages teach us :”It is not for me to complete the task, but I can not refrain from beginning the task.”
ORGANOGRAM FOR E -KHAYA PROJECT
SIVELILE PRE-PRIMARY SCHOOL
Sivelile is a Pre-primary school started by a wonderful lady, Esther Zondi, in 1994, to address the issue of the huge number of child headed household children in Inanda She started with a container for aa few children, and it has grown to more than 130 children today.
A log cabin was built for the baby group at Sivelile Pre-primary school.
The container that used to be their room has become a play and activity centre at the school, as all the classrooms are too small for the children to actively play or perform , dance and sing.
Grass has been planted in a small area for the children to play on and are hoping to provide some tricycles and cycles for the children to use in motor skill development.
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