Apr 25, 2016

The hope of Sebokeng

A little boy playing
A little boy playing

“I asked the local municipality for some land to start a childcare centre, and they gave me a dump site.” Thandi Khanyile reflects on the inauspicious start to what is today Thy Kingdom, a thriving centre in Sebokeng that assists 450 orphaned and vulnerable children from the local community. “I was totally committed to setting up the centre, so I just went ahead anyway.”

That was in 2012. Today, Thy Kingdom is one of the many thriving projects supported by Starfish Greathearts Foundation. When Thandi started building Thy Kingdom, funding was a real challenge. “We had no money” she recalls, “we received a few cash donations and some food and clothing from churches in the area. We couldn’t afford to pay anyone, so we were all working as volunteers, it was tough but Starfish has changed all that. Now we can at least offer a stipend to some of our care-workers and can give proper support to the children.”

Sebokeng, like many parts of South Africa are crippled by poverty, unemployment and crime. In these conditions, children are at risk of starvation, physical and sexual abuse, fatal illness, and have limited access to education. Many of them have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and live in child-headed households or with ageing grandparents. “I could not sit by and watch this happen. I had to do something,” explains Thandi. “So we turned a dump site into a hope site.”

The former dump site, although still limited in size and lacking proper infrastructure, now has a small playground, flushing toilets for the children, and even a kitchen. But perhaps the most treasured space in Thy Kingdom is the children’s library. Housed in a camping caravan, the collection is humbly stocked with less than 50 books, but it is impeccably neat and well ordered. The obvious care the little boys and girls show each book and toy underscores how special and rare a children’s library is in their community, in fact for many adults too this is the first library they have ever seen.

Thanks to our donors, Thy Kingdom is now able to provide a range of services for young children going all the way up to high school. “Given the pressures on teenagers today, they are just as much in need of care and guidance as the younger ones are. Their needs are just different,” explains Thandi.

The children receive cooked meals every day after school and are given school uniforms and school supplies, but the help they receive goes far beyond their physical needs. “Feeding their bodies is one thing, but feeding their minds and souls is another more important factor,” says Thandi. Every child is offered additional assistance with homework and assigned a dedicated care-worker, who helps them with emotional issues, peer pressure, abuse situations and mentor them with general life orientation.

At the end of my site visit, and a long work week, the care-workers gather in the meeting room for a simple meal of chicken and samp. Some of the staff are on a small stipend, others are simply community-centered volunteers, but they share the same enthusiasm for their work. When asked what their one wish would be for Thy Kingdom, hands shoot into the air. “Space to take in more kids; books for the library; school textbooks and stationery; soccer balls and sports supplies; winter clothing for the kids; computers, no matter how old; more old containers or parkhomes to be turned into offices and teaching rooms”...the list goes on and on.

As the care-workers share their dreams for what Thy Kingdom will one day become, feelings of hope and optimism flood the air. “We don’t have a lot but we will optimise what we have” Thandi says, and I imagine the same fiery determination in her eyes when she first surveyed the dump site in 2012. Her team nods encouragingly around her as she adds, “We need much, much more, not for ourselves but for the children we already serve and for the children who need us but have to be turned away.”

The donations Starfish receives allow our partnering organizations like Thy Kingdom to keep their doors open and grow to serve more children every year. Its 2016 and the dump site has gone; a place of loving care and hope has replaced it. With your generosity, Starfish is able to help the faraway dreams of Thy Kingdom’s care workers a reality, so Thandi and her team can make a real difference for the children of Sebokeng.

Everybody say hi!
Everybody say hi!
Care worker, Sunday and her favorite troop!
Care worker, Sunday and her favorite troop!
Jan 29, 2016

Thank you for giving healthcare to children in SA!

Wellness Wagon brings healthcare to communities
Wellness Wagon brings healthcare to communities

As she plays in the schoolyard with her friends, Nokwanda is a pretty typical 8 year old with bright eyes and an infectious laugh. She loves playing outside, reading, and hopes to become a doctor when she grows up. Nokwanda was born with HIV, and lost both her parents to AIDS, so she lives with her elderly grandmother in a corregated iron shack in South Africa.

Just ten years ago, being born HIV positive in an impoverished South African township was a death sentence. In a country where nearly 1 in 8 children are born with HIV, and over 340,000 children die annually from AIDS related causes, Nokwanda is defying all odds. But thanks to your generous donation to Starfish, she is able to celebrate the new year with her family, and is a standing testament to how basic health care and access to medication can literally save lives.

Today both she and her grandmother are going for their health check-ups at Sethani, a community health organisation in the Kwazulu Natal region, serving at risk families like Nokwanda’s. Community based health centers like Sethani, which offer ARV medications and other crucial health screenings and treatments, are a keystone in the fight against HIV, and a path towards ensuring orphaned and vulnerable children have access to basic health care needs and nutrition.

Last year Starfish and our partnering community organisations, like Sethani, provide health screenings (including HIV testing and eye exams) as well as medications and medical referrals to over 1,400 children. Your donation increased access for at-risk families to health services, by helping purchase a Wellness Wagon. This little orange minibus is a mobile medical clinic, able to reach the most rural of villages. With your gift, this basic medical access meant that orphaned and vulnerable children were healthy enough to go to school, and live healthy and vibrant lives.

We all know education is the foundation of a society, and ensuring these children have health care means that Nokwanda can go out and become a doctor, and not simply another victim to the HIV/AIDS mortality rate. Nokwanda isn’t the only one, the donation you made goes towards providing accessible health care to even more children just like Nokwanda, children to whom an easily treatable or even preventable illness, like TB or malaria, is certainly fatal.

As we continue to build this partnership with our donors, it’s children like Nokwanda that remind us what Starfish is really all about, and we want to say thank you again for helping them.

Nokwanda receives treatment in the Wellness Wagon
Nokwanda receives treatment in the Wellness Wagon
School children waiting for their health checkups
School children waiting for their health checkups

Links:

Jan 19, 2016

You have helped make it all possible!

Nokwanda and her bright beautiful smile
Nokwanda and her bright beautiful smile

As she laughs in the schoolyard with her friends, Nokwanda is a pretty typical eight year old with bright eyes and an infectious laugh. She loves playing outside, reading, and even hopes to become a doctor or a lawyer when she grows up. Nokwanda was born with HIV, and is an orphan of HIV/AIDS as well, and lives with her elderly grandmother Abbi in a township.

Twenty or even ten years ago, being born HIV positive in an impoverished South African township was a sure death sentence. In a country where nearly 1 in 8 children are born with HIV, and over 340,000 children die annually from AIDS related causes, Nokwanda is defying several odds, all stacked against her, and as she celebrates the new year with her family, she becomes a standing testament to how basic health care and access to medication can literally save lives.

This afternoon both she and Abbi will be going for their health check-ups at Sethani, a community based health organisation in the Kwazulu Natal region, serving at risk families like Nokwanda’s. Community based health centers like Sethani, which offer ARV medications and other crucial health screenings and treatments, are a keystone in the fight against HIV, and a path towards ensuring orphaned and vulnerable children have access to basic health care needs and nutrition.

Last year Starfish and our partnering community based organisations (CBOs) help to provide health screenings including HIV testing and eye exams, as well as medications and medical referrals to over 1400 children in five regions. Your donation went towards increasing the access at-risk families have with health services, by giving to our $3,000 fundraising drive, you helped us buy a Wellness Wagon. This little minibus acts as mobile medical hub able to reach the most rural of villages. With your gift, this basic medical access meant that orphaned and vulnerable children were able to go to school, and live healthy and vibrant lives.

We all know education is the foundation of a society, and ensuring these children have health care means that Nokwanda can go out and become a lawyer or a doctor, and not simply another victim to the HIV/AIDS mortality rate. Nokwanda isn’t the only one, the donation you made to help Bring healthcare to children in rural South Africa goes towards providing accessible health care to even more children just like Nokwanda, children to whom an easily treatable or even preventable illness, like TB or malaria, is certainly fatal.

As we continue to build new partnerships with other CBOs serving orphaned and vulnerable children living in poverty, it’s children like Nokwanda that remind us what Starfish is really all about, and we want to say thank you again for helping us help them. 

A young girl at her check up appointment
A young girl at her check up appointment
Masego's grandmother get screened for diabetes
Masego's grandmother get screened for diabetes
The boys of fourth grade jumping for joy
The boys of fourth grade jumping for joy

Links:

 
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