Sizabantwana

1.1.1        Main purpose of the organisation

To provide care and support to orphaned and destitute children due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other diverse circumstances and empower them to reach for a dream

1.2.1        Main Purpose of the Organization

SizaBantwana works in the Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga community to care for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) by addressing their immediate needs and the larger issues in the community to ensure that they have a bright and hopeful future. It is the belief of SizaBantwana that children need a strong positive environment in order to develop their full potential. SizaBantwana is committed to developing this environment through providing food, clothing, home-based care, health services, social development services, religious services, opportunities for exercise and recreation, training, outreach activities, and community development. In addition, SizaBantwana is committed to establishing a sustainable and replicable project that can expand into other high-risk communities.

This area has a population of approximately 2 million people and services are mainly rendered to affected and infected children and their families as well as community development work

Children as young as a few weeks are left behind in a social-economic environment where the majority of the people are struggling to survive themselves. The aim is to create a culture of hope for these children. Apart from the care and support services this project is also providing food, clothes, health services and a home. Sizabantwana is empowering the AIDS orphans, their volunteer care givers and informal foster parents to shape the future they dream of.

Sizabantwana – Imphilo project is operating in Mariti where 63 identified children, who have become orphans after both their parents died of AIDS, are cared for in the houses of relatives or caring neighbours. After school they get a cooked meal prepared by 7 volunteering women at a iron-fenced fireplace with firewood and a black pot. The children play outside under the trees and sit on the ground when they eat the only meal that they will receive for the day. 

: children who have been left behind in a world of poverty by their parents who died from AIDS. Children as young as a few weeks are left behind in a socio-economic environment where the majority of the people are struggling to survive themselves.

Their mission is to provide care for orphans, deserted children and children of terminally ill parents by training volunteers to provide in the basic needs of the children. These needs may be physical, emotional, intellectual, social or spiritual. The most basic needs that are met include food, clothing, housing and protection.

This area has a population of approximately 2 million people and services are mainly rendered to affected and infected children and their families as well as community development work

From the start it was clear that institutional care would be no option, and a home based care strategy was adopted. This means that as a rule the children are not taken from their homes (often the only inheritance they have), but are taken care of by visiting volunteer caregivers. In some cases elderly people would be encouraged to move in with the children to look after them.

Bushbuckridge is a deep rural area with limited recourses and infrastructure. This area has a population of approximately 3.8 million people. SizaBantwana services are focused on affected and infected children, their families and the communities they live in.

SizaBantwana is taking a message of hope to the core of Africa’s greatest tragedy: children who have been left behind in a world of poverty by their parents who are suffering from or have died from AIDS. According to the South Africa National Department of Health, 30.8% of pregnant women in Mpumalanga are HIV-positive, higher than the national average of 29.5% (National Department of Health, 2004. National HIV and Syphilis Antenatal Sero-Prevalence Survey in South Africa). They estimate that 30% of infected pregnant women pass the virus onto their infants, creating a tragedy of HIV-positive children, many whom become orphaned as their parents succumb to AIDS. Mpumalanga also has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS in South Africa (Human Science Research Council, 2005. South African National HIV Prevalence Incidence Behaviour and Communication Survey, p. 79). Over 15% of the children in Mpumalanga are AIDS orphans (defined as one or both parents deceased because of AIDS), a number which may be under-reported because of the stigma associated with the disease (Nelson Mandela Foundation, 2005. South African National HIV Prevalence, HIV Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey, p. 111). The number of child-headed households has doubled since 2002 with 2.8% of all orphaned children ages 12-18 reporting to live in a child-headed house (ibid, p. 112). Although the percentage is still relatively small, the trend is extremely disturbing because of the burden placed on these children. Often, education is abandoned as the children seek opportunities to support their siblings, parenting skills are minimal, increasing the potential for abuse or neglect, and the psychological costs are high because of stigma, untreated grief of the loss of parents, and the trauma of assuming overwhelming responsibilities without resources or experience. Because of the lack of protection that adult supervision provides, orphaned children are more at-risk for sexual abuse and rape, increasing the odds of contracting HIV themselves.

In Bushbuckridge, the orphan rate means that children as young as a few weeks are left behind in a social-economic environment where the majority of the people are struggling to survive themselves. The Bushbuckridge area is a high-poverty area, with a full 85% living below the poverty line (R19,200 per annum). Only 14% working age adults are employed in Bushbuckridge. Over 50% of adults are employed outside of the area (Department: Provisional and Local Government (DPLG), 2005. Bushbuckridge Nodal: Economic Development Profile.) These employment patterns destabilize families that are already suffering from the affects of HIV/AIDS and poverty.

The Marite area has additional challenges and is one of the most troubled sections in Bushbuckridge. SizaBantwana is working with the most destitute in this already impoverished area. Marite is known for its high crime rate, high teenage pregnancy rate, and high dropout rate from school (SAPS, Marite Satellite Branch, 2007. Personal Conversation). Even though violent crime has decreased over the past decade, theft is still a major problem and keeps businesses from opening stores in the area. This keeps jobs and the possibility for a strong economic future from the children of Marite, who then turn to child support grants and/or crime as a way to support themselves. For the children of SizaBantwana to develop hope for the future, the possibility for a different life must be created.

The tragedy of AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children in destabilized communities can be addressed, but it requires resources, committed adult caregivers, and an effective community-based organisation offering a variety of needed services. According to the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, “child-headed households can be helped to cope more effectively with modest levels of support. Effective support mechanisms include visits from community volunteers, modest levels of material support and training in effective parenting” (International HIV/AIDS Alliance, n.d. “OVC Support Toolkit” accessed fr www.ovcsupport.net/sw3256.asp on 20 Nov 2007). These types of programs are integral to SizaBantwana’s approach, with the addition of needed psycho-social support provided by the social worker and volunteers.