Mar 18, 2019

Starfish and Vukukhanye gives Slindile a smile!

Thank you Starfish and all the Partners for changing my lives, Your love and support have changed my life for the best! 

Slindile’s (Sli) Story to Inspire!

Vukukhanye started a Bursary project in 2008, with the objective of assisting underprivileged and deserving children from Chesterville to achieve the tertiary qualification. Vukukhanye is currently supporting 16 children with bursaries (8 at the school level and 8 at tertiary institutions) and has helped 8 children graduate. with the support of the Starfish and partners, Slindile is one of the children who has been part of the bursary programme and her story is below

Sli is an orphan, who was raised by her grandmother, who sadly passed away when Sli was in Grade 10; after which Sli continued living with her grandfather and uncles in very poor conditions in a small home in Chesterville. Sli’s family was assisted by the Starfish funding in terms of food parcels and toiletries for the person concerned whilst she was at High School. Her school performance and progress were very good, and she was recruited for the bursary programme since she was doing Grade 8 at Chesterville Secondary School in the year 2009 as a beneficiary of Vukukhanye’s Bursary Programme. Sli has been supported in her educational journey for a period of nine years. The programme covered tuition fees, textbooks, stationery, food parcels, and University traveling expenses.


After completion of her Grade 12, Slindile enrolled for Bachelor of Social Science Degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Sli specialised in Geography and Environmental Management. In 2017 she completed her bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, Sli developed a passion for being an educator and in 2018 she enrolled for Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Edgewood Campus). Sli conducted her practical’s (Experiential learning) at Chesterville Secondary School and as a volunteer in rendering Vukukhanye’s programmes. This year she anticipates completing the course. The organisation is very proud of Sli’s achievement and wishes her all the best of luck in her future endeavors!

“Kindness can transform someone's dark moment with a blaze of light. You'll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.” 
- Amy Leigh Mercree

Dec 19, 2018

Starfish Greathearts Foundation changes lives

Starfish Greathearts Foundation supports children orphaned or vulnerable in South Africa by working in partnership with Community-Based Organisations (CBOs). Starfish has two key programmes

 A) Starfish Wellness Programme – to safeguard the health and well-being of children. Services provided included:

  • Access to a mobile clinic for primary health care services (Starfish Wellness Wagon)
  • Daily meals
  • Home visits
  • After school care programmes
  • Early Childhood Development care
  • Adherence support for HIV positive guardians

B) Capacity Building Programme – To capacitate CBOs to effectively manage their organisations to provide quality service delivery to children orphaned or vulnerable

Training and mentorship in the following focal areas:

  • ECD Training
  • Child Safeguarding

A) Starfish Wellness Programme

A total of 7355 children were supported during the reporting period. 3155 children accessed the primary health care services through the Starfish Wellness Wagons in KZN and EC. Care workers conducted 1639 home visits to assist with domestic chores, assess safety in the home environment and provide psychosocial support to the family. 1526 children participated in after-school care activities (homework assistance, reading clubs, sporting activities etc.) at the Drop-in Centre. Early Childhood Development care was provided to 1084 children. Daily meals were provided to 3318 children.

To date, Starfish has worked in partnership with 37 health facilities based in Gert Sibande and Sedibeng to provide adherence support to 50 706 patients

B) Capacity Building

ECD Training

The Starfish team provided training on the PRACTICA ECD Programme to 10 staff at Sethani Community Centre and 5 staff at Thy Kingdom Care Centre. The objectives of the training were to:

  • Familiarise participants on how brain architecture develops in children
  • Realise the crucial role that responsive caregiving plays in the holistic development of children
  • Introduce the 6 development groups (50 school readiness skills) to be achieved
  • Train ECD practitioners on the implementation of the Practica Programme

Child Safeguarding

The Starfish Programme Manager conducted a child safeguarding workshop with eight participants in KZN. The purpose of the workshop was to outline the guiding principles in developing a Child Safe Guarding policy.

The workshop comprised of four key elements:

1. Assessing the risks at the organisations and mitigation strategies

Focuses on children that access care services and the potential risks they may face to be able to devise safeguarding measures that would mitigate the risks.

2. Developing/strengthening a child safeguarding policy

3. This training element helps participants determine the scope, structure, and contents of the policy. The participants were taken through a SWOT analysis.

4. Implementing the policy

Develop and put procedures in place to implement the policy

5. Roles and responsibilities

Activity to identify roles and responsibilities for child safeguarding

Starfish is grateful for the opportunity of partnership and appreciate that together we can help make a difference to the lives of children left orphaned or vulnerable in South Africa.

Dec 19, 2018


Swa Vana Children’s Project is a community-based organization meeting the needs of five hundred orphaned and vulnerable children in the Huntington region of Limpopo province, close to the Paul Kruger Gate of the Kruger Park.  The region is large, under-resourced in terms of infrastructure and the people live in simple dwellings alongside dusty sand roads.  Hidden beneath the rustic, peaceful atmosphere of the place one finds evidence of real poverty and desperation, particularly when one enters a home where there are no adults.  These child-headed households are the legacy of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that swept through the region for twenty years.

AIDS systematically destroyed thousands of families, taking away one or both parents and leaving the children to fend for themselves.

Pontso Natoi is Swa Vana’s project leader.  “Our aim is to provide for the basic needs of the orphaned and vulnerable children of our region.  Our care-workers deal with them in their homes, providing emotional and spiritual support, counselling and practical help with their everyday lives.  At our drop-in centres, we give the children a meal after school, assistance with homework, computer literacy lessons and general life-skills training,” she explains.

In addition, the organization helps to get the official identity documents required for them to secure child grants from the government.  Given the red tape involved in getting the children ID’s, this is often a long and frustrating process, but the Swa Vana workers stick to it.

Given the size of the area, Swa Vana has established two satellite centres that cater for children living far away from Huntington.  “We have to go to where the children are.  They cannot come to us.  One of our strengths is the location and sophistication of these satellite drop-in centres,” says Pontso.

These are at Lilydale and Justicia.  At the Justicia centre, Swa Vana has partnered with a local church, which provides the basic infrastructure and facilities.  Penny and Margaret are the regional co-ordinators and they are supported by three cooks and two after-school care-workers.  A gardener on site looks after a substantial vegetable garden and the centre also boasts four laptops for computer instruction.

125 children are fed a meal here every day, an enormous task that keeps the cooks busy and the kitchen humming. 

Lilydale is another few kilometres deeper into the area.  Like Justicia, it is a fully-independent care centre with its own staff and kitchen facilities and provides the same meals, homework assistance and computer training as Huntington and Justicia.

Pontso is pleased that the organization has such a broad reach.  “After small beginnings in 2004, we are now far bigger, thanks to our wonderful donors, including the Starfish Foundation.  I would not be satisfied with just one centre in such a large area.  The children need us everywhere, so we have to go to them.  Very often, the meal we provide is the only proper food they will get all day.  For our kitchen workers, it’s tough, but it’s a labour of love and they do it gladly.”

The drive back to Huntington takes fifteen minutes on the dusty roads, but suddenly this is not a problem.  Why?  Because this is a distance that the needy children of Justicia and Lilydale do not have to walk to get their essential support from Swa Vana.

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