“For the first time we will be able to go to school in our uniforms and look just like the other children who still have parents” – Lerato, aged 10
Our Wellness Wagon brings healthcare to children in rural, impoverished communities
Starfish recently introduced our Wellness Wagon, a mobile clinic that delivers healthcare to children in rural communities, without access to healthcare. The Wellness Wagon tests for HIV, TB and malaria and monitors the children’s general health and development. The Wellness Wagon visits impoverished areas, where the number of child-headed households is intolerably high, HIV is prevalent and your support is desperately needed. This month a staggering 67% of the 1,327 children treated were referred for further services, including malnutrition and treatment of ringworm.
“14 year old Grace was born HIV positive. She started to become weaker and thinner, but she lived with her aged granny with dementia, and there was no one to take her to the clinic. Starfish’s Wellness Wagon visited her rural village and tested her for HIV, we were alarmed that her CD4 count was only 10. It was amazing that she was still alive.
The Wellness Wagon referred her for treatment for TB and ensured that she knew how and when to take her anti-retroviral medication. Her CD4 count is now 54 and she is in the hospital, where we have visited her. She is grade 7 this year and we hope that she will return to school next year and resume her life.” - Starfish care worker.
Ethembeni (Kwa-Zulu Natal)
Ethembeni has partnered with a local daycare centre, to ensure that preschool children are stimulated and ready for school, as Ethembeni do not have space for all the children at their facility. This initiative by Ethembeni is part of their program to empower community members. They have restructured and strengthened their Children’s Program to maximize the impact of their childcare.
Loaves and Fishes Network (Eastern Cape)
The Positive Parenting Skills Workshops held in the villages were well attended. The support groups have been well received. Pateka Mtintsilana, LAFN General Manager, was selected as a finalist in the Business Women’s Association 2015 Awards, in recognition of her development work. Ten social worker interns have been appointed and a full-time social worker has been employed.
Bulungula (Eastern Cape)
Children in the preschools are being weighed regularly and given deworming medication and Vitamin A every six months. The Wellness Wagon visits monthly to immunize children not yet in preschool. Playgroups are held regularly and parents are taught the importance of playing with their children, in order to teach them shapes and colors etc. Fresh vegetables from the food garden are used to feed the preschool children.
Isipho (Eastern Cape)
Situated in one of the poorest regions of South Africa, Isipho is home to 66 children who have been orphaned by AIDS. Funding from Starfish enables Isipho to give these children a chance to complete their education, keeping them well fed and caring for those with nowhere to live.
Isipho provides not only a shelter for a group of orphaned children, but is also a pre-school, a library and a community center for AIDS awareness and training. Thanks to these programs, Isipho is no longer experiencing school drop out and teenage pregnancy. 94% of the children that Isipho supports passed their school exams. Funding from Starfish has helped Isipho train childcare workers in early childhood development, so that they are better able to respond to the children’s needs.
Cleaning materials and toiletries were provided to the children to help them maintain a high standard of hygiene.Nutritious meals were provided during the school holiday programs. The children alsoget meals at the crèche and the aftercare program.Older children receive vocational skills development. A support group for children is providing life skills training and counseling. Almost 50 children benefitted from medical supply services.
The number of children being assisted with homework and participating in afterschool activities has increased. 150 children received health screening and 15 have been referred to the local clinic. An additional 75 children received TB screening. Outreach to 150 adolescents on HIV/AIDS prevention. Caregivers received training on health screening and counseling children with emotional needs.
“Starfish, you make me feel better, you make me cry lesser, you make me dream bigger.” Nathi, aged 11
In the past few months since our last report, Starfish has supported a total of 8,435 children left orphaned or vulnerable by AIDS, in 30 community organizations throughout South Africa, thanks to your generous donations. The greatest number of supported children was in Mpumalanga followed by Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal respectively. Child Protection was the highest accessed intervention (67%), followed by education (60%) and healthcare (60%). The highest recorded services relate to home visits, followed by after school care, material support and food provision.
The number of children receiving HIV testing and TB screening has improved. Your contributions were also used to fund the disbursement of nutritional and material support, including school shoes and winter clothes. Childcare training for 11 caseworkers was conducted, with further training scheduled for the upcoming months.
Our Wellness Wagon program has progressed steadily and 1,263 children have been screened and tested in our mobile clinic. A number of health promoting campaigns have been conducted, for example health education, prevention of TB and STDs, and the promotion of male medical circumcision. Here is what some of the receipents of your support have said:
“Receiving food, uniforms, medical supplies and toiletries, as Starfish had started to give these items in these last three months, has brought back self-esteem and hope in these families. You can see how happy they are when you are doing visits and how thankful they are. Starfish has made such a big difference in the community and the children are so happy and thankful.” - Community Outreach Centre
“I have 15 years living with HIV, I was born with it and I have accepted that I will die with it. My mother passed away when I was 11 years. It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I receive support from community health workers from Starfish. They have taught my aunt and me so much about living with HIV. Thank you Starfish for the food parcels.” - Tshokolo
“Things start to become better when I met the Starfish caregivers who are providing us with more health talks, which had made our lives better. Today we are living a happy life and accepted and moved on. We have joined the support group that helps us a lot. We all take our medications if one seems to forget one will remind them. Living with HIV it’s not a nightmare, it only needs us to accept and do what you been told to do by doctors.”- Hendrick
Your generous support has provided thousands of children in South Africa with healthcare, education and child-protection services this year. We can't thank you enough, but these letters from the children say it best:
"Dear Starfsh, I live with my granny and uncle. I am in grade 11 at Chuch School in Yeoville. I am very grateful for the opportunity that you provided for me. Education is the best gift one can ask for. I would like to thank you for this immense gift that changed by life and brought more colour, more hope and more optimism. I have realized that my background doesn't determine my future and I am motivated that I can be anything in life. This gift has made my life better and has really changed the way I see the world. Yours truly, Nombulelo"
"Dear Starfish, I am in grade 4 at NkaThuto School. We are a family of 8 people. I would like to thank Starfish for being part of my life and making sure that my edicational needs are taken care of. My wish is to finish school. Love from Botlhale"
"Dear Starfish,Thanks for everything that you have done for us and thanks for the jersey, book and t-shirt that you brought us and I hope you will continue to help us. Thanks again for everything, you are special people, don't turn your back on us. Thank you, Daweti"
"Dear Starfish, I am 17 years old and I'm currently in grade 11. I wrote this letter to thank you and show my gratitude for providing for my educational needs, and providing me the opportunity that many don't have, which is education. Yours truly, Ellen Khersani"
"Dear Starfish, Thank you for your support, thank you for everything, for the blankets, school bag, school uniform and food. I am so glad to have you, you support me like any parents. Those blankets are so soft and smooth and the school bags you have given me help me put my books safely. Those school uniforms help me to change, and not to have just the one pair to wash and wash. And I thank you for the food you have given me to eat. I am so happy. Thank you for your support again. May God bless you, Zitha Kitso (grade 9)"
Thank you for your continue support and bringing joy to these children's lives! Please donate today and GlobalGiving will match your donation, so that we can have an even bigger impact on the lives of these children.
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.
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