Our sister organization is a primary school for 250 children from deprived backgrounds in Johannesburg, South Africa. The teachers recognized that many of the children were not achieving academically because of the home circumstances they were returning to every day - no food or electricity, and in many cases no parents. Thandanani ("place of love") was formed to help the worst-of-the-worst of these children and to provide a loving home environment where they could thrive as individuals.
Zandspruit in Johannesburg is an informal settlement formed by migrant rural families moving to the city for work, resulting in a "suburb" of almost 100,000 inhabitants. It consists of tin shacks, no electricity, no sewage system and limited running water. The unemployment rate is high, as is the crime level, and the victims are the children, many of whom are under-nourished, attending over-crowded schools and often subjected to physical and emotional abuse, thus repeating the downward spiral.
The only solution is to take the children out of this environment and provide them with a new home. "Thandanani House of Refuge" was thus formed where we are able to offer the children a real home, taking care not to make it feel like an institution. House parents are employed who live on the premises and treat the children like their own, ensuring that they get the love and attention that they need, and the children are enrolled at local schools ensuring that they receive a good education.
Many of our children stay with us until they graduate from high school at age 18, at which point they are ready to either enroll for tertiary education (for which we have a bursary fund), or are able to find a job, thus ensuring that they don't have to return to the environment from which they came, and can go on to become stable caring adults who can start an upward cycle of improvement, reaching their full potential, and contributing to society.