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