Starfish celebrates its’ 10th anniversary this year! Starfish has always has a grassroots approach to addressing the very real problems of children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa. We do this by partnering with local projects within communities, to provide education, healthcare and child-protection services to children in need.
Our first project was the Ginasapho Rural Outreach Program, which received $2,500 to feed 500 children.
10 years and over $2 million later, Starfish USA helps support almost 16,000 children in 35 communities throughout South Africa, bringing not only hope, but real change to the lives of these children.
We’ve seen real change this past decade, including the graduation of our first Starfish child from the University of Johannesburg last year! Thabo came to our centre in Soweto when he was just 11 years old and already head of his household. Starfish supported Thabo with counseling, food parcels and daycare for his younger siblings, enabling him to return to school, and against all odds, graduate from university.
You have helped fund our Wellness Wagon, a bright orange mobile clinic, which travels to Starfish communities, providing vital healthcare services to children in rural areas without access to medical centers. The Starfish nurses test children for HIV, TB and malaria, provide immunizations and monitor children’s health.
We visit our projects regularly, not just because we like to see the smiles on the children’s faces, but to ensure financial accountability, monitor growth and development, and update our donors on the progress of our work.
Many of the daycare centers are in rural villages without electricity or running water. These centers care for 30 children in little more then a corrugated iron shack.
At each of the daycare centers we support, the children are well cared for and educated, and the teachers are making a real impact in early childhood development. The children receive two hot meals a day, which are cooked in a tiny kitchen over a gas stove. Vegetable gardens provide healthy, fresh food for the children. This is possible thanks to educational materials, training and funding from Starfish.
Thank you, on the behalf of the children, for your continued support. As they say in Zulu, “Siyabonga”!
Your donations have achieved so much!
Starfish provides training and mentoring to the children, as well as monitoring individual healthcare, education and child protection services. This year, your donations provided 10,372 daily meals for school children, 6,180 food parcels to vulnerable families, 2,674 school uniforms, 6,667 Afterschool care sessions, 3,789 clothes and blankets to children, Child protection services to 8,460 children. Thank you!
Providing children with the services they need to flourish
Recently Starfish was alerted by the school’s careworker to a family in a terrible situation. The family consists of a mother and 6 children who do not attend school. They have recently come from Swaziland and settled in an isolated shelter away for the local community. The social worker could not provide care as they are not South Africa nor have they any official documentation. The social worker conducted a visit to the family and they were immediately referred to Starfish and provided with school uniforms and a monthly food parcel. Our food gardener, Bongani Mngomezulu, will be assisting them in starting a food garden of their own and soon they shall be self-sufficient.
Giving a voice to those in need
A 9 year old boy in Grade R at Mayaluka Primary was noticed by our social worker at the school. The boy would hardly speak and would use very few words when he did. His family and his teachers accepted that “he was born like this, there is nothing we can do.” Thankfully Starfish could help. The boy was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a speech impediment. Immediately he was taken to see a speech therapist. The social worker found the child had been seriously neglected and recommended he be placed with foster parents. There is sadly a widespread lack of awareness of the help available to children in dire need of expert attention.
Sowing the seeds of Hope
Feeding seventeen mouths can be a daunting prospect, but this is a challenge Sbonbile faces daily as she supports and cares for her five children, many stricken by TB and twelve grand-children. Starfish sent a community health worker to visit the family and found they were on the verge of starvation. In response Sbonbile and her family received garden tools and seeds to grow a self-sustainable food source for the family. Food security is a major problem within many of the communities that we serve. Having enough to eat is vital, especially for those living with HIV. Even if they are fortunate enough to have access to antiretroviral therapy, without the right nutrition, they cannot fully adhere to treatment programmes. Through the support of Starfish, Sbonbile and her family have the means to produce their own food. This small, but fundamental assistance now means that the family are not only better fed and more financially stable; it affords the grandchildren the chance to go to school and the hope of a better future.
Please join us next month at our Dinners of Hope to celebrate South Africa's Heritage Day, and learn more about the work that Starfish is doing to bring life, hope and opportunity to thousands of vulnerable children throughout South Africa:
Tuesday, September 23rd at 6:30pm
Braai, W51st Street (Btw 8th & 9th Ave)
Friday, September 26th at 8pm at Nandos
We look forward to thanking you in person for the real change that your donations are making in the lives of South African children affected by HIV and poverty.
Please contact email@example.com to reserve your tickets.
There are so many memories I want to share from my recent trip to South Africa to visit our Starfish projects that it’s hard to know where to start. What stands out most in my mind are all the smiles on the children’s faces!
I got to meet Emma, our Starfish Project Manager, who visits each of our community centers regularly, to check on their progress and provide them with support. And Pateka, an impressive matriarch who oversees the care of 1,667 children in 31 daycare centers in the rural, impoverished areas in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest areas in South Africa. And Pumela, a previously unskilled woman without a high school education, who was trained by Starfish as a preschool teacher and now works in one of our daycare centers.
I met Sizwe, a green-thumbed gardener who proudly showed me the community food gardens he grows at the daycare centers, despite the lack of running water. He attended the Starfish gardening workshop and receives funding for his vegetable gardens, to provide fresh food and healthy vegetables for the children.
And of course the children; like little Simamhkle, a three-year-old boy who is unable to walk and was brought to a Starfish daycare center by the social worker, where he is now receiving medical help and care. And the five young children I met who proudly told me their names and ages in Zulu. One of these preschoolers was HIV positive, but thanks to the care and treatment they are receiving from Starfish, the child is flourishing.
Being able to see firsthand the vast difference your donations are making to these children's lives was both moving and rewarding. With your help, Starfish has been able to bring not only hope, but real change to the impoverished, rural communities with whom we work.
This year we’ve disbursed almost $80,000 to our projects in South Africa, which has gone towards providing educational materials and meals for day care centers, basic healthcare services, child protection services through social workers and homecare providers, and training programs for staff members. These services support over 16,000 children in 41 communities throughout South Africa.
After a long ride on a dusty, dirt road crossed by cows and goats, we arrived at Keiskamma, an isolated, rural community without running water or electricity. Rainwater is collected in large, green JoJo tanks for daily use at the preschool. The daycare center in Keiskamma cares for 34 children, who were all very happy to see us and showed off their knowledge of numbers, letters and days of the week with song and dance. The children receive two hot meals a day, which are cooked in a tiny kitchen over a gas stove, and a flourishing vegetable garden provides healthy, fresh food for the children.
The afterschool center across from the high school offers students homework support, computer facilities, a library and driving instruction. We stopped off at Keiskamma’s impressive Arts and Crafts Co-op, which creates jobs for the talented women in the community, so I could collected 200 beautifully hand-made orange Starfish keyrings for our NYC Gala!
The following day we visited Loaves & Fishes Network, where a workshop on childcare was underway for daycare teachers and parents. The preschools we visited were training staff members on sanitation and nutrition for the children, critical in an area with running water or flushing toilets. Starfish's focus on training and development is a key part of helping communities help themselves.
At each of the daycare centers we visited, I was struck by how well cared for and happy the children are, and what an impact the teachers are making, caring for 30 children in little more then a corrugated iron shack. These preschools currently receive educational materials from Starfish and funding for the teacher’s stipends.
Starfish plans to renovate each of these daycare centers, building brick schools with better facilities for the children, running water, solar panels, flushing toilets and safer kitchens. Your donations will go a long way to making these plans come true!
Late that afternoon we stopped in at Nceduluntu, a community plagued by hunger, unemployment, poverty, abuse and neglect. The need for the newly-hired Starfish social worker, Memory, was clear. The social worker makes regular home visits to the almost 300 children who come to the day care center and the 150 students who attend the aftercare center after school.
In Kwa-Zulu Natal we visited Ethembeni, (which means “Place of Hope”) with their well-equipped Family Center, staffed by enthusiastic foreign volunteers who were immersed in computer training programs for the community. Ethembeni provides over 50 families with food parcels, counseling and general support to families. Their Residential Care Centre cares for AIDS and TB patients on four hospital beds in a modest clinic.
Thank you for your continued, generous support in making all this possible and bringing smiles to more vulnerable children in South Africa!
Your donation has made a BIG difference to the lives of children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa!
Thanks to your generosity, Starfish has been helping communities help themselves. We've been empowering community centers in the Eastern Cape, training childcare workers in Health Care, Child Protection and Education.
Loaves and Fishes cares for 457 children daily
Ubomi Obutsha cares for 337 children daily
Bulungula cares for 112 children daily
Over 2 million children are orphaned by AIDS and poverty in South Africa today. As a result, 82,000 children live in child-headed households. More than half the children live below the poverty line. Diarrhea is the leading cause of death in children.
While this seems overwhelming, Starfish is making a difference, one child at a time.
Starfish helps communities help themselves, strengthening the capacity of local community organizations, which care for over 16,000 children orphaned by poverty and AIDS in South Africa every year. Starfish lifts up communities by training childcare workers in Health Care, Child Protection and Education.
Starfish ensures the accountability of your donation - each of our community organizations submits a monthly report, detailing the services delivered per child, plus a quarterly financial report. Starfish visits all of our community organizations every three months to track their progress and provide support.
Your donation will have an even BIGGER impact on May 7 – mark your calendars and get ready to give!
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