Jul 21, 2014

A visit to our community centers in South Africa

The children learn songs and games at daycare
The children learn songs and games at daycare

Dear Donors

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!

Pumela is "Mama" for 40 children at daycare
Pumela is "Mama" for 40 children at daycare
Sizwe and the bounty from his vegetable garden
Sizwe and the bounty from his vegetable garden
Our new social worker, Memory, provides support
Our new social worker, Memory, provides support
Talented hands making our beaded Starfish keyrings
Talented hands making our beaded Starfish keyrings
So many happy faces thanks to your donations!
So many happy faces thanks to your donations!

Links:

Apr 30, 2014

Get ready to give back on May 7th!

Children at Bulungula in their new school uniforms
Children at Bulungula in their new school uniforms

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

  • A playground and park are being built to provide a safe place for children to play.
  • 14 Gardeners learnt valuable horticultural skills and received vegetable seedlings to plant a food garden, which will feed the children at the Educare Centers.
  • Parents and guardians learnt parenting skills at a Positive Parenting workshop, empowering them to care for their children.
  • Eight teachers were trained in a computer literacy course
  • 38 Teachers were trained to introduce mathematics at the daycare centers.
  • 7 Teachers are studying for a National Diploma in Early Childhood Development. 

Ubomi Obutsha cares for 337 children daily

  • All of the volunteers were trained in childcare and Early Childhood Development
  • 20 Potential future leaders from the youth group were enrolled in a “Leadership Academy” for the year. These children have already shown much growth.
  • The “Ready for Success” tutoring program was launched to help high school students prepare for exams.
  • 87 Afterschool students received calculators donated by Starfish.

Bulungula cares for 112 children daily

  • 9 Home-Based Careworkers were trained to identify and care for children with disabilities at school and at home, with a focus on early intervention for children with disabilities below the age of 4.
  • Home-Based Careworkers received backpacks with care equipment to use when visiting patients.
  • The new clinic provides basic medical services to treat and educate the children and community, and refer them to health care facilities if need be.
  • A community vegetable garden was grown for the benefit of preschool children. There are community gardens in four local villages, using organic manure, which feed the community
  • The International Health Day presentation educated the community on TB infection control, HIV and STD prevention.
  • A new preschool library was opened at one of the four village preschools, which are each headed by trained preschool teachers, to teach the children under the age of five.

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!

Careworkers visit vulnerable children at home
Careworkers visit vulnerable children at home
Ubomi's tutor helps students prepare for exams
Ubomi's tutor helps students prepare for exams
GlobalGiving's Chi Nyuyen visits Keiskamma
GlobalGiving's Chi Nyuyen visits Keiskamma
Children enjoy the playground at Loaves & Fishes
Children enjoy the playground at Loaves & Fishes

Links:

Feb 14, 2014

Year-end Giving Report

The Tsongang soccer team!
The Tsongang soccer team!

Thanks to your incredible generosity in December, almost $50,000 was disbursed to Starfish SA in January 2014. These much-needed funds are being used to support six Community Organizations throughout South Africa, enabling them to care for thousands of vulnerable children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, in their own communities.  Thank you for making this all possible!

1) Ethembeni (Howick, KZN)

Ethembeni’s vision is to bring hope to families affected by HIV/AIDS and TB in the Natal Midlands, by providing comprehensive care and prevention services. Starfish funding will help reduce the vulnerability of 120 children this year.

Ethembeni is located in the small rural township of Mpophomeni, in a corner house overlooking an open veld, where livestock such as goats and cattle cross the streets.  The Family Centre cares for over 50 families in need, providing at-risk families with food parcels, counseling and general support.

The Residential Care Centre treats AIDS and TB patients. Four hospital beds are set up in two bedrooms, where patients are either nursed back to health through correct nutrition and medication by qualified nurses, or allowed to die in a dignified way.

Starfish funding will enable Ethembeni to provide HIV testing and counseling to over 2,000 people, practical material support to over 200 families and job prospects to 100 unemployable people in the community of Mpophomeni. Even though the community is poverty stricken you can sense that Ethembeni brings warmth and love to the community in all that they do.

2) Ubomi Obutsha (Port Elizabeth, EC)

Ubomi provides daily meals to over 800 children every month. Thanks to Starfish funding, 183 children will be sent home with nourishing food parcels this month, 57 children will receive school uniforms and 11 high school students will benefit from skills development training to prepare them for the workforce.  Starfish funding will also help to repair buildings and maintence on the community center. The head of Ubomi shares this story:

“Nwabisa, who is just 15 year old, lived with her 2 year old baby girl in a dirty shack.  The baby was a result of rape.  Nwabisa’s mother died 2 years ago, and her funeral organized by Ubomi, who also provided family counseling for the girl.  Ubomi’s social worker contacted the police to intervene in Nwabisa’s case, since so many problems need to be solved.  Ubomi Obutsha and Starfish worked together on the Nwabisa project, and were able to provide Nwabisa with a house full of furniture, groceries and clothing for her and her baby!  A social development grant was given for child, as well as psychological treatment trauma, educational support.  A social worker is teaching Nwabisa how to care for her daughter. Nwabisa now lives with her brother in her new home and she looks happy. If Ubomi Obutsha had not received funding from Starfish, then none of this would have happened!“

3) Loaves and Fishes (East London, EC)

Loaves and Fishes, which cares for 457 children daily, uses Starfish funding to provide daily meals for these children, as well as medical supplies, first aid kids for the daycare centers and education supplies, like school uniforms, stationery and backpacks. The much-needed funds will enable teachers to introduce mathemathics into their early childhood development curriculum at their daycare center.

Starfish funds will also be used to host a community training workshop on “Violence against Women and Children” to address domestic violence and child abuse in the home and community, and how this affects children and their schooling.

4) Bulungula (Eastern Cape)

Bulungula, in a remote corner of the Eastern Cape, feeds and cares for 110 children every day. With the funding received from Starfish 10 children will be tested for HIV this month, 6 children will receive school uniforms, school fees and school stationery. The community gardens, planted with Starfish funds, provide healthy, nutritional meals for the children in the pre-schools.

156 children, under the age of three, will receive educational toys, while caregivers host workshops to demonstrate the importance of preschool education to parents. Home-based caregivers visit households with young children, using the education toys funded by Starfish.

Your donations will help Bulungula organize HIV and sex education in schools, manage 24 home-based caregivers and help children obtain grant applications and birth certificates.

5) Isipho Charity Trust (Paterson, EC)

Isipho feeds over 337 children daily.  Starfish funding will provide medical supplies for 12 children, help 4 children get birth certificates, provide educational supplies for 62 children, help 12 high school students receive skills development training and train 12 caregivers to provide nutritious meals to improve the health of children with HIV/AIDS. Your donation helped plant a home food garden that feeds the community.

Starfish funding was used to buy educational material for young children in the day care center. This included toys for the fantasy play area, block corner area, sand pit area and creativity area. Starfish funding for Isipho’s aftercare program helps provide math tutors for high school students to help them pass their exams. Capacity building by Starfish has helped Isipho train staff to be qualified childcare workers, able to respond to the children’s needs.

6) Tsongang(Soweto, Gauteng)

Tsogang Sechaba aims to “educate a child and empower a nation” and feeds more than 1,060 hungry children twice a day. Starfish funding will help them care for over 300 children at the centre and feed another 700 children through soup kitchens in local schools.  Tsongang feeds anyone in need, as their Nurse Rose believes that you can’t “chase away a hungry stomach”.  Tsongang is able to provide more than 300 food parcels each month to child-headed households, thanks to your donations, ensuring the nutritional wellbeing of orphaned or vulnerable children. 

With funding from Starfish, over 500 children were provided with school uniforms this year, enabling them to go to school and have access to basic education.  Tsongang also helps these children to process official documents and provide referrals to access to treatment and grants. They monitor the children in their care with an up-to-date database that allows them to keep accurate records and provide sustainable support services.

Tsongang is well respected in Soweto and works hand-in-hand with Starfish to provide the best support possible to the children.

Snack time at Isipho
Snack time at Isipho
New swing set at Loaves and Fishes
New swing set at Loaves and Fishes
Your donation created many happy smiles!
Your donation created many happy smiles!

Links:

 
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