Monday, June 18, 2012

More than just a feeding scheme: a vital community hub

 Today, standing in the dry, dusty, OR Tambo informal settlement some ten kilometres outside the town centre of Randfontein, it's hard to believe, or even imagine that last year this was the site of fierce flash flooding that saw some families’ homes and possessions washed away.
  But, at 3am on 20 February, that is exactly what happened when the heavens opened causing some shacks to collapse and washed away furniture and belongings.
  Carryou Ministry, who operate a creche and feeding program in the settlement, together with the West Rand Disaster Management team was called in to help. All in all, 37 families were affected.
 “Carryou Ministry undertook to accommodate the women and children of the affected families in the Carryou Drop-in Centre (DIC) while the men decided to stay with their belongings and re-build their shacks,” says Brenda Naholo, Programme Manager for the DIC.
 “For the next week the women and children had a roof over their heads and running water and each day the families, including the men, received two cooked meals. The local municipality donated blankets.
 “We prepared breakfast and lunch and Pillar of Strength, an organisation doing home-based care in the area made supper,” she says.
 “Women and children slept in the DIC centre at night but the men chose to take care of their belongings and returned to their shacks after having their meals.
 “Since then we have also assisted families to apply for and obtain important documents lost in the floods such as identification documents and birth certificates.”

Vital Hub
  The Carryou DIC was established as a feeding point for orphaned and vulnerable children but it is much more than that. It is a vital hub and beacon of hope for the impoverished community.
  Kids are not only fed but receive assistance with homework and schoolwork, some of it given by unemployed men in the settlement.
  But conditions are not ideal. Children do their homework in one of the containers but must sit on the floor as there are no chairs or tables yet. It is a challenge but still better than that experienced by many other kids in other parts of the country.
  The DIC also offers, counseling services, life-skills programs that cover issues like HIV/AIDS prevention, TB awareness and teenage pregnancies and help given to community members who need to obtain birth certificates and identity documents.
  In the past year the following Community Involvement and Education Programmes were run at the centre:
  • Teenage pregnancy awareness campaign
  • Community mobilisation on vaccination
  • Pap smear awareness
  • Mobilisation on child  negligence and their rights
  • Candle light event
  • HIV AIDS Awareness
  • Awareness on Foster Care for foster parents
Many other activities also take place at the DIC including:
  • Caregivers support group once a month
  • Boys and girls support groups separately  once a month
  • Youth support group
  • Child care forums
  • Teenage support groups
  • Community leaders support group  to discuss issues affecting the community
  It’s a huge task that must somehow be done with limited financial resources.
 “We get many referrals and requests for assistance from surrounding schools and communities, “ says Brenda.
 “It is a great challenge that we face as increasing numbers of kids are being orphaned as a result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. In just the past year, the number of people receiving assistance at the OR Tambo DIC has increased by 25%!
 “But we receive assistance from many quarters, even internationally, For example, at least 22 food parcels are distributed to child/granny/sick parent households every month as a result of the fund-raising efforts of Sue Heywood and her supporters in the USA.”

If you would like to know more about the work of Carryou Ministry or would like to offer assistance, please click on the “How you can help” link on the right of this page.

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