The Family Africa Free Day Care Centre for the children of HIV positive women and AIDS orphans
We are running a completely free day care centre for the pre school children of our HIV positive mothers as well as AIDS orphans. The children receive two nutritious meals a day, a good education and health care. We believe this is an excellent way to offer community based support to HIV positive women and also to the grandparents who are left caring for the orphans once the parents have died of AIDS. It is impossible to build enough orphanages in Africa because of the sheer numbers but also because in many way children are best raised within their own extended family,culture and community whenever possible. Community based Free Day centres like The Family Africa’s give the support that struggling extended family membersneed to continue caring for the orphans. Additionally we provide breakfast for other orphans who are attending government school but who would otherwise face the school day hungry.
HIV/TB Counselling Centre
Here are some key facts about HIV in South Africa (UNAIDS stats 2021) which emphasise the great need for all our HIV projects:
- 7.5 million South Africans living with HIV
- 18.3% south African adults living with HIV
- 210,000 new HIV infections per year
- 51,000 AIDS-related deaths.
- 5.5 million south Africans receiving antiretroviral treatment.
Our counselling centre is open 5 days a week and we have a steady stream of people coming for free of charge counselling, HIV tests, TB screening and other health tests such as blood pressure. They also come along with requests for assistance with many other issues such as abusive relationships or clients in need of practical help to get paperwork done so they can claim grants. Many clients are referred to us by the Office of Social Development and we either enable them to join one of our support groups or refer them to other organisations which are more relevant for their particular needs such as drug counselling or legal help with abusive relationships.
Support Groups for people living with HIV and TB
HIV/AIDS Support Group and Skills Training
As there is a terrible stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, we initiated an HIV/AIDS support group in 2005, which included men and women who were referred to us because they were suffering from Tuberculosis (TB).
In the township where we work, 90% of TB patients are HIV positive, and as there is no stigma attached to TB, we discovered that it meant patients were more comfortable being involved in the support group and thereby receive the help they need. All our clients are economically disadvantaged, and many depend on the group for their basic food.
This support group has been running successfully since 2004 and involves skills training and development programs such as literacy, sewing, bead making, and food gardening, as well as ongoing HIV/AIDS education and other health education. It is community-based in the township, and we have dedicated community members who work as a team to uplift the community. We supply nutritious food as a healthy diet is important to help build up their immune systems and prolong life.
Although originally the men and women were in the same group, we have now separated the groups so that the men’s health programs are more targeted to their needs. This also makes it easier to focus on the women, with pregnancy and family planning classes, etc.
The new clients attend another group on a different day so they can receive focused attention because their health is very poor when they are referred to us. They also need basic HIV and TB education immediately to ensure they understand their status, the importance of taking their medication faithfully, and how they can work with their bodies to improve their health.
The health of our clients is monitored as we check weight and blood pressure on a regular basis and provide personal counseling. We also supply warm clothing and blankets during the winter months when they are most at risk due to their poor health.
A very important element of the support group is the emotional and spiritual support they receive and the support they give each other. The food garden helps to promote gentle exercise and also provides them with a sustainable food source and a feeling of self-worth.
HIV/Aids Mothers Support Group: “The Mother’s Club”
The Mother’s Support and Counselling Centre for HIV positive mothers and their children.
In a social environment where there is still a huge stigma attached to HIV/AIDS which normally leads to isolation and in extreme cases can lead to stoning and beatings, our project is highly successful with the mothers coming together and openly discussing their status. Most of the babies are also testing negative due to on-going education, medication and support.
Initiated in 2004, this project is similar to the TB/HIV group but with one extra valuable goal and that is to try by all means possible to ensure they receive the correct education so that their babies have an opportunity to be HIV negative. Although some babies can become HIV positive due to the mixing of blood at birth or through breastfeeding, babies can test negative if their mothers are trained and encouraged to maintain the proper feeding and care of their babies and to adhere to their daily HIV medication (ARVs). We also help them to build happy memories with their babies and families through cultural events, competitions and Christmas parties: giving the mothers short term and long term goals to help the women look forward to the future which helps to prolong life
The women are also encouraged to attend training courses and initiate micro businesses with our support. We have a weekly sewing group and a bead making group and when possible we give grants to start small businesses. Also by volunteering at the Centre the women gain valuable work experience whereby we can provide them with references to help them find work. We also work with other organisations to give assistance to ensure they can obtain the necessary paperwork such as birth certificates and IDs so that they can receive any government grants to which they are entitled.
All of these services mean that the women are being empowered to take control of their lives and put food on the table for their children.
Child Headed and Gogo (Grandmother) Household Units and Support Groups
Gogo (Grandmother) headed households and Child headed households.
South Africa’s HIV and AIDS epidemic has had a devastating effect on children in a number of ways. There were an estimated 270,000 under-15s living with HIV in 2021. In most instances, the virus was transmitted from the child’s mother. Consequently, the HIV-infected child is born into a family where the virus may have already had a severe impact on health, income, productivity, and the ability to care for each other. There are also an estimated 960,000 orphans under 17 years old as a result of HIV/AIDS.
The age bracket that AIDS most heavily targets – younger adults – means it is not uncommon for one or more parents to die from AIDS while their children are young. This has led to Grandmother (or less often Grandfather) led households as well as child headed households. Thankfully more people are now living longer lives with HIV due to the roll-out of ARVs (Antiretrovirals), but we have still identified a need to give targeted support to Grandmothers who care for orphans and to child headed households as we believe as much as possible, children benefit from staying with their families in their communities rather than being brought up in institutions.
For Grandmothers, we run a support group every week with skills training, especially literacy and numeracy, as many of them grew up during apartheid without the opportunity for even a basic education. We also give them health education and food parcels plus other needs such as blankets and toiletries.
Child Headed Households
Child headed households are given the food parcels and an opportunity to eat at our centre every day. We do home visits to check on the status of the household to identify and supply other necessities and encourage the eldest child to continue with school.
School Age Orphans: Care and Support
The Family Africa Free Day Care Centre caters for preschool-age orphans and gives them a good education and two meals a day, but we realized we needed to do something for the school-age orphans and so we created a regular support group which supplies them with food, toiletries, blankets, clothing, and shoes as well as weekly activities.
School Age Orphans: Care and Support
South Africa’s HIV and AIDS epidemic has had a devastating effect on children in a number of ways. There were an estimated 360,000 under-15s living with HIV in 2013, a figure that more than doubled since 2001. In most instances the virus was transmitted from the child’s mother. Consequently, the HIV-infected child is born into a family where the virus may have already had a severe impact on health, income, productivity and the ability to care for each other. There are also an estimated 2,400,000 orphans between 0 and 17 years old as a result of HIV/AIDS.
The Family Africa Free Day Care Centre caters for preschool age orphans and gives them a good education and two meals a day but we realised we needed to do something for the school age orphans and so we created a regular support group which supplies them with food, toiletries, blankets, clothing and shoes as well as weekly activities.
Early Learning Programmes including Teacher training, EaziTeach™, and Reading Clinic
The Family Africa Early Childhood Development Programmes
Giving children in townships a brighter future by transforming township crèches (Early Learning Centres) into empowered well-resourced learning centres.
An International study in 2021 found that eight out of ten Grade 5 (10-year-old) pupils ‘still cannot read at an appropriate level’. The survey found that South Africa was last out of 57 countries in reading literacy. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65618058
Teachers Workshops and Early Learning Seminars
Our teachers’ workshops and seminars invest in the future of thousands of children by empowering teachers to work within the challenging confines of Early Learning Centres in townships and squatter camps. We conduct Early Learning Seminars for pre-school teachers which are motivational and instructional, promoting practical pre-reading and writing activities, and the basics of teaching reading, writing, and numeracy. In 2022, we began hosting weekly training for teachers working towards accredited South African teaching qualifications, and when possible, we obtain sponsorship for as many teachers as possible.
Our Early Learning Courses are available here: https://familyafricaearlylearning.blogspot.com/
We believe that effective user-friendly teaching methods and early intervention can turn the tide on the poor outcomes schools are experiencing. Crèches (Early Learning Centres) in townships are often overcrowded, have little or no equipment, no books, and very little space. Often they act as a “child sitting” service where as long as the children are fed and safe, that is sufficient. Teachers are often untrained, unmotivated, and of course poorly paid. We believe that any successful intervention has to be economical, practical, and user-friendly. Starting from ground zero, our approach can make the difference between no education and a quality education.
Mandela said, ”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
The TFA ECD programme is a comparatively inexpensive and easy way for the teachers to use and comes with training, mentoring, and regular follow-up both through visitation and WhatsApp groups.
We use what the teachers already have in their hands on their android phones and connect them to flat-screen TVs so they have access to thousands of resources, reading schemes, and numeracy activities. For the cost of one smart flat screen, we can make available curricula, reading schemes, posters, books, and more which are completely out of reach of real grassroots Early Learning Centres, many of which do not even have a single book for the children to read.
ECD Enrichment Centre and Reading Clinic.
Since 2000, we have invested in Early Childhood Development in townships through free of charge teacher training courses and providing equipment and resources to hundreds of crèches. In 2018, we decided to go one step further and initiate our Early Childhood Enrichment Centre and Reading clinic for crèches ECDs. We invite groups of children along with their teachers to attend free enrichment sessions on a rotational basis. Using fantastic resources, the children receive stimulating sessions covering phonics and whole word methods of teaching reading. We also cover numeracy, recognizing colors, shapes, etc., and English as a second language. We use computers, TV screens, flashcards, and books. Children are also given access to hand-eye coordination activities and outdoor games and activities.
One of our teachers also takes the resources to a different ECD every week to teach their children to read and to train the teachers how to use the resources at their disposal.
The Reading Clinic runs every Saturday and includes children from Grades 1 – 6 who have failed to learn to read at school or alternatively have never been to school due to not having documentation.
The Enrichment Centre and Teacher Training Programmes go hand in hand with the EaziTeach ™ Curriculum and The Family Africa ECD Digital resource programme.
EaziTeach ™ Curriculum
We have developed a Curriculum based on our digital resource kit and send out weekly planners and resources to make it easy for the teachers to be able to put into practice.
The Family Africa ECD Digital Resource Kit
The ECD resource kit is a 16 gig memory stick or SD card full of wonderful resources that will help to make teaching easy and empower teachers to give township children a brighter future! This kit is expandable, which means that at the teacher training workshops, more material is added.
We keep in contact through WhatsApp groups and send the teachers daily planners so that every day the teachers can easily check on their phones the theme and plan for the day.
We run teachers’ workshops on a regular basis to motivate and to ensure the teachers have the necessary skills as well as the necessary resources to make the program sustainable.
Most of our Early Learning training programs are now also online. Click here to learn more: https://familyafricaearlylearning.blogspot.com/
The Family Africa Best Teacher award
We run a competition every year for the individual teachers making the most progress, presented at a special dinner party in front of all the participating teachers and also arrange a lucky draw of resources for all the ECDs attending where everyone wins a prize of resources or ECD equipment.
Teachers Workshops and Early Learning Seminars
Our teachers’ workshops and seminars invest in the future of thousands of children by empowering teachers in primary schools and pre-schools to be trained in HIV awareness and health guidelines for children, as well as a range of other health-related topics. We also conduct Early Learning Seminars for pre-school teachers, which are motivational and instructional, promoting practical pre-reading and writing activities, and the basics of teaching reading, writing, and numeracy. Most of our courses are available online, and we hold sessions at our center where the teachers can study online at their own pace.
The Family Africa Early Learning Online courses: https://familyafricaearlylearning.blogspot.com/
The Family Africa Health Online courses: https://familyafricahealthcourses.blogspot.com/
In 2022, we began hosting weekly training for teachers working towards accredited South African teaching qualifications, and when possible, we obtain sponsorship for as many teachers as possible.
Community Training and Workshops
“Building A Stronger Family” workshops are conducted by The Family Africa in response to the breakdown of the family unit, which although a growing worldwide phenomenon, is particularly apparent in the challenging environment of a squatter camp. In the workshops, we cover 7 main topics, which include the importance of praise and unconditional love to build self-confidence and being a positive role model as parents or guardians. The workshops also include questionnaires for the parents to encourage them to think deeply about their parenting skills and ways they can improve. Other workshops cover parenting teens and teen mental health.
We have developed a range of health courses, including HIV and TB awareness, pregnancy, the dangers of high blood pressure, breast and ovarian cancer. We run Health Champion courses which take several days to complete and for which participants receive a certificate to show they are a trained Health Champion able to have an impact on the community.
Online Health Courses: https://familyafricahealthcourses.blogspot.com/
Tutoring and Computer training for Underprivileged Teenagers
As a teenager living in a shack in a township or squatter camp in South Africa, there is nowhere quiet to do your homework, and most likely, no one who is able to help you if you do not know what to do. Education can be a real key to help you escape the shacks and build a better life, but with overcrowded, poorly resourced schools, and often substandard teaching, how can young people get the education they need?
This is why we knew it was imperative that we respond to this need with positive action. We have been running our tutoring for teenagers from the age of 11 up to 18 for several years. We concentrate on mathematics as most of the teenagers with whom we work hardly know how to do multiplication tables and are still counting on their fingers to work out math problems at 16 years old. English lessons are also a very important key to job opportunities as it is the language of business in South Africa. This help is available most afternoons and during the holidays, and we have a Saturday morning school for teenagers every week. Teenagers also receive a nutritious hot meal during the week.
Our center has also been transformed into an “internet café” for teenagers where they can access online courses, complete research for school and university projects, and learn how to use computers.
Other activities for teenagers include dance, drama, table tennis, and tennis.
Food Voucher Programme for Malnourished Children
Through our Family Health programmes, we have identified children who are underweight and obviously on a poor diet. These children have been weight and height measured and given a general health check by a nurse, who then gives them a food voucher which entitles them to a free dinner every day at The Family Africa Centre. This also gives us the opportunity to monitor their health and conduct home visits.
Family Health Programmes
Our family Health programmes are held on a regular basis and aim to check the general health of children and their parents in a township or squatter camp. Parents are offered TB and diabetes screening and blood pressure and HIV pre and post test counselling. Children are weighed, measured and checked for health problems, signs of abuse and malnourishment. Malnourished children are placed on our food voucher programme, whenever possible.
Teen Dream Programme Using Music, Drama and Excursions
Life in a squatter camp or township in South Africa can be difficult, challenging and full of hardship. Imagine being a teenager brought up with very few opportunities for fun but surrounded by easily available drugs, sexual abuse, crime and a fight for survival. Our Teen Dream Club gives teenagers a chance to learn to dance, swim, play football, go on excursions and just have fun! With plenty of activities and hot dogs every week, this club gives teens a chance to step out and experience new things in a safe environment.
Support for the Elderly and Vulnerable Families
The Family Africa was asked by the Office of Social Development to initiate a support group for the elderly and vulnerable families in Thabo Mbeki Township, where there is no electricity or sewage disposal. We have been running the project for several years, supplying food, counselling and home visits in this area where there is very little assistance available especially for the elderly who are living in the difficult circumstances living by candle light at night and having to walk to fetch water.
“Building A Stronger Family” workshops are conducted by The Family Africa in response to the breakdown of the family unit, which although a growing worldwide phenomenon, is particularly apparent in the challenging environment of a squatter camp. In the workshops we cover 7 main topics which include the importance of praise and unconditional love to build self confidence and being a positive role model. The workshops also include questionnaires for the parents to encourage them to think deeply about their parenting skills and ways they can improve.
Literacy and Numeracy Classes
Adult Literacy and Numeracy classes
We believe in the importance of Life Long Education starting with Early Education, Remedial reading clinic for school age children and Maths and English tutoring for teenagers, teacher training, sponsored computer course and of course adult literacy.
Due to Apartheid many of the now older adults did not receive a decent education. Even now there are still 4.4 million adults who are illiterate. We have 4 adult literacy classes running every week from beginners to intermediate catering for about 100 adults teaching literacy and numeracy ranging from adults who cannot read or write at all up to those who are improving their skills so they can find jobs.
We celebrate many special events during the year such as running campaigns and workshops which coincide with and promote United Nations International Days focused on health. We also celebrate South African national days such as Mandela Day and Heritage Day.
Since 2004 we have organised a Christmas Party every year for 1500 children from between 40 – 60 Early Learning Centres in the township of Diepsloot and its surrounding area and the parties are always a highlight for these children who mainly live in very poor conditions.
Christmas Parties are also held for all our support groups and of course our own Early Learning Centre, Grace Academy. Whenever we can we try to help to build happy memories for all our clients!