SOS Social Centre in Mamelodi, South Africa
Situated on the outskirts of South Africa’s capital city Pretoria, Mamelodi is a large ‘township’ with a population of 1.5 million people. In Mamelodi, social problems are many: poverty and unemployment are rife, approximately 25 per cent of people are HIV positive, and there are thousands of AIDS orphans, many being cared for by relatives. SOS Children recognized that the need for vocational training and support for HIV-affected families was desperately needed, and as a result has set up sustainable long term education and support programmes in Mamelodi. These have yielded amazing results.
In 2001, the HIV/AIDS Community Support Programme was launched, allowing SOS Children to reach HIV-affected and –infected children in the local community. This project is being run by the SOS Social Centre in Mamelodi, and in 2002 the Social Centre formalized its partnership with Tateni Home-Based Care in the form of Legodimo la Tsepo – ‘Heaven of Hope’ – community based childcare support programme. The project strengthens the capacity of families and the community to care for orphaned children, through education and by giving support to child-led and grandparent-led families. This support m may come in the form of food parcels, clothing, education, counseling, a and assistance with income generating activities. As SOS Children recognizes that it is best for a child to grow up in its biological family, provided the child’s physical and mental health is not at risk, we do all we can to keep families together and prevent child abandonment.
62 per cent of primary care givers in the poorest area of Mamelodi, Mandela Village, are female single parents / guardians, many of whom are unemployed. SOS Children offers vocational training courses to mothers who have to support their families. Courses are tailored to meet the need of the local market, and courses at the Mamelodi Social Centre include beadwork and sewing (dressmaking). Women, and some men, on the sewing course for example make clothes and knit jumpers which they can then sell. This helps to generate a regular income so they can support their children. Clientele at the Social Centre are expected to make an active contribution to the programme by working hard so they can become independent. This will avoid long-term dependency on the project. A number of women on this course are given start-up grants to help them set up their own businesses.
While the mothers are on these training courses or at work, SOS Children runs day-care centres for their children. SOS Children’s ‘EduCare’ programme runs 40 creches in Mandela Village, which care for over 2,500 children. The EduCare centres also run short courses for mothers in hygiene, health, nutrition and child development.
There are thousands of orphans in Mamelodi. It is estimated that 84 per cent of orphans in Mandela Village are cared for by family members, but many are struggling to cope. As well as supporting these families, SOS Children l plays an important role in the identification of a families that could benefit from government grants. Foster care grants make it possible for relatives to care for orphans. Children who have nothing and no-one, or whose families still cannot cope, are given a new loving home at SOS Children’s Village Mamelodi.
SOS Children’s Community Support Programmes in Mamelodi are supporting thousands of vulnerable children and their families. We are helping them to help themselves by providing children with an education and adults with skills to make them employable. These programmes help people in the long-term.
Note about sponsorship: please note that we do not offer children on our outreach programmes to child sponsors: we only offer children who live in our villages. However, you are welcome to Sponsor a Child in Africa in one of our villages….