Since we last reported, the number of children we assist on a monthly basis has risen to over 1600! This is due to the support we have received from all of you and we cannot thank you enough for reaching out to us and donating to our cause.
There are a number of core activities involved in our Orphaned and Vulnerable Children's Project - and all serve to offer children both an immediate lifeline as well as a framework for moving forward with an improved quality of life and stability. These core offerings are providing food parcels, school fees and clothing, (seeing that the children are going to school) – and crucially helping the Caregiver to access a social welfare grant. Once the grant is obtained and the family is stabilised, we can then move to helping the next family and children who are in dire need. We assist not only Granny headed households, but also those where there are no permanent adult caregivers. This is where we are so glad that our Topsy Fieldworkers live in the communities that we serve – to give that genuine personal support and caring.
The Vegetable Garden Project is tied to the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Project. In each case where Topsy determines to work with Caregivers and their children, the setting up of a vegetable garden is mandatory.
Over the last year our social work team has helped an average of 108 households per month – which in turn involved an average of 274 children monthly.
The average number of beneficiaries supported through the communal vegetable gardens per month during over the last year is 564, and the average number supported through individual gardens is 758.
An average of 498 beneficiaries per month have been helped with emergency food parcels over the same time. 179 Children attend our Clinic each month for free Anti Retroviral Treatment and an average of over 1600 children per month were assisted in total.
In addition to the essential services offered to the children in our OVC project, we make sure that we take every opportunity to bring more joy and comfort to their very difficult lives. A fantastic opportunity to do this is Easter time.
We aim to bring Easter Eggs and blankets to the children we serve. A good start on this road so far has been a lovely donation of Easter Eggs. The Johannesburg Mini Council of school children spend a great deal of time and effort collecting many eggs to distribute to various charities. Once again this year Topsy was chosen to receive these chocolate Easter Eggs. We went to collect them from those children and now look forward to distributing them to our children. It is these seemingly small gifts and experiences that we can provide to children to make a big improvement in the quality of their lives.
Life is hard for the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children who benefit from this project. It is also really difficult for the caregivers of these children as most often, they are old and at a stage of life where they need to slow down. Gogo Wendy would like to share her story with you-
Gogo Wendy’s story
Client story: Wendy Simelane (name changed to protect her identity)
Community: Cornelia (Free State) +- 70km from our Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care Clinic
and central project site in Mpumalanga
Wendy Simelane was born in 1941.06.11. She is a guardian to eight orphans, 6 of these children are attending school, 1 is at the nursery school and there is also a 5 months old baby.
Her son passed away in 2008. He had left one child who has also since passed away. In 2009 her daughter passed away too. She had just started to attend the Topsy Foundation clinic, unfortunately it was too late. That daughter left behind three children. The eldest of these three, who had also been on treatment, had four of her own children.
Wendy has another son who is currently on antiretroviral therapy. He has five children, and as the mother of these children has already passed away, four of them have already been sent to stay with the maternal relatives’ care. The other one came back the beginning of 2011 to stay with Gogo Wendy. She also has her youngest son, who has left for Johannesburg to look for a job.
With all of these children to care for, Gogo Wendy only gets a Child Support Grant for two. She has been speaking to the local authorities to see if she can receive further grants for the other children – this is an ongoing matter.
Getting food parcels from Topsy has been such a relief for Gogo Wendy, as she was desperate for help. The baby formula she received from the Topsy clinic came at the right time - when it was really needed for the baby.
Topsy also helped Gogo Wendy with school clothes, ensuring that she can freely send the kids to school without fearing that they will look shabby. Recently we were able to bring even more support - it was a great day for Gogo Wendy when the Topsy car stopped at her house to deliver disposable baby nappies that were donated to us.
When winter came around last year Gogo Wendy received blankets which she was so grateful for telling us that they never felt the cold of winter. She is determined to start and maintain, with the assistance of Topsy’s Home-Based Care Workers, a Vegetable Garden soon, (she was disrupted by the floods). Topsy’s Home-Based Care services are always available for her and the rest of the family members- especially the baby, when they need medical attention or someone to talk to.
Your support means the world to Gogo Wendy and to all of us at the Topsy Foundation. We can only provide her with the services we do because of you.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Dear Topsy family of supporters,
With each month that passes, the Topsy Foundation continues to steadily reach more and more individuals in need and we continue to steadily develop as an organization.
This year, we are once again ready to stand as an example to other organizations of what can be achieved when the will is there to do it and humanitarianism is backed by sound business principles.
In our third quarter for 2009, our HIV and AIDS Clinic had an average caseload of 1274 patients/month, (up from avg 767/month the previous year). We continue to grow and sustainably offer support to an increasing amount of impoverished people in rural South Africa. In October 2010, the Clinic saw a total of 1743 patients receiving free ARV medications for the month.
Our Community Outreach Programme (comprised of a Home Based Care Project, the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Project and a Vegetable Garden Project) is also continuing to offer much-needed support to our communities. Figures for Home Based Care have also grown over the last year.
As you are aware, the interconnectedness of our projects leads to a natural growth and development, as more people learn about the options available to them to improve their lives. Our phenomenal staff working daily one-to-one with our beneficiaries are the golden threads who tie it all together, and they never stop working on delivering our services where they are truly generating positive change. A good example of this is that in this period, (May to October 2010) 1397 people came into the Clinic, defying stigma and fear and took part in Voluntary Testing and Counselling. Our staff were then able to give guidance on behaviour and life changes that would help them – whatever the result.
Our Skills Training Programme, comprising of the Tinyiko Sewing Project and the Shukushukuma Beadwork Project is doing very well. We continue to find new markets and opportunities for the sale of the items that our ladies produce. It is key that this happens, as it represents a very important arm of our service. We work with our beaders and seamstresses to ensure the sustainability of this initiative – in itself a vital goal.
Topsy is always happy and rewarded to reflect on the achievements and developments that we have been lucky enough to provide to our beneficiaries. Everyone who works at Topsy can say that we are satisfied to just be able to continue to serve our rural communities – and every further piece of growth is just a gift.
We are deeply appreciative of your contribution in the past, and are keenly aware of how important our family of supporters is. Without the partnership of key supporters like you, our future vision of flourishing rural communities, where a generation of young people, who in spite of the impact of HIV and AIDS, are productive participants in society … could not be.
In our Orphaned and Vulnerable Children's Project, the following events have taken place recently;
Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Career Guidance Day
The Topsy Foundation’s Career Guidance Day took place on the 23 September 2010. Learners from 5 communities where Topsy renders services gathered together at Grootvlei NG Church hall.
The aim of the project is to get children to understand the fact that they have (potential) abilities, gifts and talents that they can make their future out of.
The first element that was attended to was “Analyzing oneself with the intention of knowing who I am”, accepting such and planning one’s life around strengths one has. Our Topsy Foundation Social Workers did a wonderful job here.
Then representatives were invited to give broad information on various careers that are available to learners and to shed light on how children can access resources to further their studies.
Last but not least there was an element of cherishing and inspiring them towards entrepreneurship for those who are entrepreneurially inclined.
The event was well organized and every person who formed part of the organizing team was enthusiastic and passionate. The parents/ guardians showed much support to the occasion by signing the consent forms and giving permission for the kids to attend. Learners who attended showed a high level of cooperation throughout the day. With the help of our fund development office we received goodie bags for each learner who attended which became the highlight of the occasion!
Learners in Grootvlei and its surrounding areas suffer from a lack of human resources due to the area’s geographical location and environment. Services we offer, such as information on Career Guidance are therefore pivotal to the kids in the area who have potential to change their own circumstances. This type of occasion can be upheld and turned into an annual celebration as a way of influencing and partaking in the development of our area of operation.
Orphaned and Vulnerable Children’s Stimulation Day
We held the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Stimulation Day on the 29 September 2010. 43 children attended the day.
The purpose of the day was to expose the children to creativity and recreation – and so enrich their development and lives. Topsy Social Workers played games with the children and helped them to paint bags for them to take home for schoolbooks.
The purpose of the games was to make them aware of values like, honesty, team building and trust. Sensory awareness was a priority. The aim was to bring the children in contact with themselves and to let them have the chance just to choose - to be in charge of their own world for a short time.
They thoroughly enjoyed the day. Some of them said that they never had the opportunity to choose from so many colors to paint or draw with (and there were only 6).
Voluntary Counselling and Testing, Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Public Speaking Contest
This was a series of competitive events conducted with seven high schools from the communities served by Topsy.
Each competing child had to research one aspect of HIV and AIDS and how it affects people’s lives. They then had to prepare and present a speech on it in front of their peers. They also had to do an impromptu 1 mini-speech on a related topic on the day.
The Topsy Social Workers were instrumental in ensuring that correct knowledge sharing was promoted and encouraged.
The preliminary competitions gave opportunities for a wide number of learners to be reached, especially in the schools that released all the learners for the event.
During the preliminaries the Topsy Social Worker spoke extensively with the learners about HIV and AIDS, emphasizing the need for the learners to make wise choices about their lives.
The final competition created an opportunity for the learners to speak about the importance of knowing their status and maintaining good behaviour with regards to HIV and AIDS. Having the learners speak to one another as peers helped emphasize the importance of them taking responsibility in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and encouraged positive behaviour, that will not only be beneficial to their health but their overall development and future.
Voluntary Counselling and Testing Campaign at Shalom Children’s Home
The VCT campaign planned for Shalom Children’s home was held on the 07th of October 2010.
25 children below the age of 16 years were tested. A request was made to test the other children who were tested in the previous testing campaign done. It was agreed that this shall take place on another day to be agreed upon.
The organization welcomed the testing of the children. It is always very encouraging to partner with other organizations to share our journeys towards the common goal of helping communities dealing with HIV and AIDS and the associated challenges.
Lastly, numbers of beneficiaries assisted through food parcels May to October 2010 was 3112. These food parcels are so important and are such a vital aid for households until we are able to set them up with state grants. Before households are able to access a caregivers grant, they often have absolutely no other form of support and are severely malnourished. This is disastrous, especially for HIV positive individuals as nutrition is so important when your immune system is compromised.
All of this, is only possible with the support of our donors and we would like to express our sincere thanks for the support we have received this year.
Best wishes for a wonderful festive season; we look forward to reporting back on progress made in 2011.
When we first posted a notice about this project, 800 children were benefiting from it.
We are pleased to report that with the support of our individual donors and Corporate supporters, we reached a record total of 1329 children in July 2010!!!!!!!
As soon as the latest statistics are available, I will post those too.
The Orphaned and Vulnerable Children we assist receive a number of services from us, food parcels are just one of the many forms of assistance.
Other forms of support that these children receive are as follows;
Vegetable Gardens, Home Based Care, Free Antiretroviral Treatment and comprehensive HIV and AIDS care at our Clinic, assistance with access to child grants, assistance with school uniforms, career guidance days where we help the children to find a goal to work towards, public speaking competitions, clothing, blankets and food parcels.
We also offer support groups to the caregivers of these children and a safe, supportive space where they can get together and share their experiences.
Orphaned and Vulnerable Children are a really sad result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic which has had devastating consequences in South Africa.
In Africa, we often say; 'It takes a village to raise a child'. This is happening more and more in South Africa as caregivers step in to look after these children, doing so despite their own level of poverty.
By supporting us, you have joined our village, your support has strengthened us, and for that, we are truly thankful.
The first prelimiary event of the VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) Public Speaking Competition was held at Retshedisitswe High School on the 17th March 2010. The overall aims of this competition are to ascertain the knowledge held by the youth on the subject of HIV and AIDS; enlighten and empower the youth who are adversely affected and infected by the scourge of HIV and AIDS, on how to prevent it spread and deal with the challenges; encourage voluntary counselling and testing amoungst the youth; create a platform for the identification, grooming and development of the future leaders through enhancing their language and public speaking skills, and to strengthen working relationships with the schools in the communities served by the Topsy Foundation.
The learners were expected to choose a topic from a provided list and conduct extensive research into the topic. They were then expected to write a five-minute speech, and to present this on the day of the competition. The evaluation focused on the accuracy and depth of the information provided, plus the ability of the learner to articulately present the information. A one-minute improptu question was given to the learners after their presentations, and their ability to think quickly and articulate their improptu response added to their overall presentation marks.
The event was attended by all 1029 learners of the school, and there were a total of 23 participants in the competition.
Considerable information on the effects of HIV and AIDS was shared during the participants presentations.
After the presentations, a motivation on voluntary counselling and testing was done. This motivation highlighted the effects of HIV and AIDS and the immune system, the importance of knowing on'es status early, seeking medical assistance, and preventing primary and secondary infections. Information on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and the possible means of infection were also shared.
A challenge was presented to the learners, teachers and invited guests to 'let the choices they make today be the choices they can live with tomorrow'. These included the choices to take heed of the knowledge shared on HIV and AIDS, get tested for HIV to know one's status, and to live a responsible life.
The results of the competition and the winners were then announced, and the winners were presented with their prizes.
The enthusiasm and work of the participants showed a readiness amongst the youth of South Africa to be part of the driving force in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Further education will take place in the form of posters and flyers which will be handed out in the schools.
This was the first of many of these events that will be presented by the Topsy Foundation, in an effort to involve the youth in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and to encourage them to get tested, and to live responsibly.
On Friday 27th November we held our Annual Children’s Christmas Party for some of the beneficiaries of our Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Project. With 97 eager and excited children arriving at the Topsy Sanctuary in Grootvlei, the day could only be a success!
Party tables were set out, and the area was beautifully decorated.
Each child received a party pack in the form of a bucket filled with delicious goodies, amongst which were beautiful Christmas candy canes.
In the spirit of teaching the children about the true Christmas story, some children and members of the Grootvlei Community told the story, and acted out the Nativity play. A local pastor, guitar in hand, then took to the stage and got the children singing and doing actions to the songs.
The big moment is always when Father Christmas arrives, which he did, with presents for each child. While the children were waiting for their name to be called, they restored their energy with hotdogs, cupcakes and their party packs!
Unfortunately for us the festivities outside had to be cut short as a massive hailstorm took over, but at least the children were able to go inside and hit their piñata to get to the much longed for sweets!
The Christmas party is very important to us at Topsy as it gives us the opportunity to bring a little bit of excitement into the lives of these children; lives which more often than not, are filled with hardship, difficulty and sadness.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our donors and supporters who are assisting us in helping these vulnerable children.
We wish you all a very healthy and prosperous 2010, as we look forward to bringing a lot of sunshine into the lives of the Orphaned and Vulnerable children with whom we work.
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