Child Headed Homes

Through its long standing projects serving the local community including the children’s home and the respite centre caring for young people suffering from HIV/AIDS and other diseases, Baphumelele has witnessed the continued impact of HIV/AIDS on families in Khayelitsha.  Some of the most vulnerable children have been affected by the ongoing pandemic – in many instances, these children have lost their parents and are now isolated and living alone within the community. It is estimated that there are around 7,000 orphans living in khayelitsha and the surrounding areas.

Children in affected households have reduced opportunities for growth and development and increased vulnerability to disease and destitution.  They live in poor housing, often in fear and at threat of abuse and harm through lack of security and lack of responsible adults. Many are required to care for their sick and dying parents and now have to deal with the emotional trauma after their deaths. Caring for themselves as well as their younger siblings takes its toll not only on their emotional well-being and health but also on their ability to attend school regularly. Left without parents, there is no regular income and therefore no means to look after themselves.

The Child Headed Homes project aims to support these children through mentorship and direct intervention. By keeping the siblings together in a community that they know, they are then able to stabilize and to develop together as a family. Support is prioritized into five key areas – food parcels, education & work experience, emotional & pyscho-social support, healthcare and finally legal assistance – all with the aim of rebuilding these young children’s lives and enabling them to go forward together as a strong family unit.

Coordinated by members of the office team, more than 30 families have been supported over the last 3 years. Assessments are currently taking place to expand the project to 50 families. Financial support for this project has always been hard to come by, and we rely on the fantastic support of a group of donors who regularly raise funds to provide the monthly food parcels. These contain basic food supplies for the month to enable the heads of household to focus on their education or work experience. Clothes and household items are also well-received as we help these young families live a better life.

If you would like more information on this project, please contact the Baphumelele office. In the meantime, here are some ideas of how to help:

Help us train the heads of household and get them back to college or into jobs – training is given via our Fountain of Hope project in life skills, work readiness and especially computer skills. These courses give the young people much needed confidence and hope to take the steps to get back into education or to find work. Support for transport costs is welcome as well as for general costs associated with training (stationary, food for mealtimes, electricity)

Donate items for our Food Parcels – these are an essential part of the programme and are handed out once a month to those families identified as having no source of income (either through paid work or via a grant). They contain basic foodstuffs such as dry goods, pulses, cooking oil, tinned fish, peanut butter as well as some chicken and vegetables. We also add basic hygiene products such as dettol soap and washing powder to ensure the families stay clean and maintain their health. Each parcel costs around R400 per month to feed a small family.

Help these children attend school – one of the key aims of this project is to ensure that each child finishes their schooling. Living in a community with up to 50% unemployment, having an education is essential as a stepping stone to finding paid work. Each year the children and young heads of household need items for school including uniform and shoes, stationery and text books, as well as registration fees (which are around R400 per year). For more on information on this, please see our Back to School Campaign!

Help support a full time Coordinator – this project is run on a shoestring relying on collections for the food parcels and with our existing team sharing the work of coordinating the programme and mentoring the young families. We would really like to have a dedicated full time coordinator in place to take this project forward and to provide an essential and critical service to these young and very vulnerable families. A monthly salary is around R4000 per month for somebody with some qualifications.

Many thanks for all your support

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