Providing after-school care, including tutoring and mentoring, may be the most critical component of 25:40′s Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Action program. It also, however, is the most resource intensive. In Canzibe, we have developed a model aftercare center that can be replicated in villages throughout the area to care for children who are orphans or vulnerable to becoming orphans. We also work with schools to bolster and strengthen existing after school programs where they exist. As part of our efforts to ensure the needs of OVCs in particular are met, we are partnering with Pediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa health workers in handling health issues faced by children with HIV/AIDS. 25:40 also is working with individuals and other organizations to develop, fund and implement programs to address other critical needs of children and their care-givers, such as practical skills and sexual abuse prevention.The Aftercare Program was set up to meet the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in the Canzibe community through a set of important goals. These include, but are not limited to:
- To provide children with a safe and secure place to come and receive spiritual and emotional/psychological support through a Christ-centered program.
- To provide children with tutoring and assistance with their school work, and to ensure that they are completing their school assignments and homework properly.
- To provide children with a healthy meal.
- To provide children with additional teaching and training in the particular areas of English, Life Skills, Arts and Crafts, and Gardening/Practical Skills.
- To monitor individual children on a daily basis for particular health, emotional, or educational needs, and to meet those needs or assist the children’s caretakers in meeting those needs.
In 2011 we initiated a program to provide school uniforms, shoes and backpacks for children – a small, but critical intervention, as often orphans will not attend school for fear of being ostracized because of their clothing. In many cases, children will be turned away if they do not have uniforms – even though this is illegal under South African law. In early 2012 we purchased school uniforms for 100 of the neediest students. We continue to raise funds to provide school uniforms to 653 children in our registry who need them.
Another important element of the OVC Action Program is nutrition. Because of the unrelenting poverty in which they live, these children do not have access to a balanced diet and proper nutrition for their growing bodies and brains. 25:40 is fortunate to be a partner with The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a daily meal for extremely poor and at-risk school children in South Africa. In 2014, The Lunchbox Fund provided financial assistance to pay for the well-balanced, nutritious lunches and snacks 25:40 provides everyday to our Masonwabe Preschool and 25:40 Aftercare students. In 2015, The Lunchbox Fund streamlined its process and now delivers the food to a nearby drop, eliminating the need for the 25:40 staff to grocery shop!
In addition, 25:40 teaches children in our aftercare and in our wider OVC Action Program to grow and maintain their own food gardens. This is important not only to provide them with valuable skills and a renewable source of nutritious food, but also to restore confidence and a sense of self-worth. 25:40 and SPF initiated a pilot food gardening program in 2010 that provided training, seedlings and materials for 120 children. Our goal is to make such training available to all children in our program.
Because the government run schools in the Eastern Cape where our aftercare students attend lack proper resources for a quality education, most students do not continue their education beyond high school. But the rural nature of the Eastern Cape does not provide many opportunities for good jobs. Therefore the Canzibe community, Living Water and 25:40 partnered to build the Hlalani Kum Learning Center, where young adults and residents of the community come to learn practical skills they can use right in their own communities. So far, courses have been taught in sewing, plumbing and agriculture.
The Learning Center also currently houses the 25:40-Canzibe aftercare students.