Category: Creative Learners | Reading Promotion | 30 May, 2013 - 02:00← BACK
iKhaya le themba was founded in 2003 by Kenilworth Vineyard Church at the invitation of local community leaders and other NGOs in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay. The mission of iKhaya le themba is to provide psycho-social support to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS or who have been made vulnerable for other reasons.
Through conversations with the community, it was identified that after-school care would be the most appropriate way to provide this assistance. In addition, the community identified the need for their children – as well as for parents – to become competent in reading and writing both English and their home language of Xhosa. The reading programme at iKhaya le themba was thus one our first programmes and continues to be a core element to our functioning. But we have also extended our programme in the form of adult workshops and support groups to further address the crisis in the care and education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and are seeing the benefits for children of empowering the adults who care for them.
iKhaya le themba’s purpose, strategic approach and expected outcomes
Whilst the HIV infection rate is estimated to have plateaued at 28% of the population, the crisis of children who continue to be orphaned by AIDS continues to grow. To date, the traditional form of care for orphans has been orphan homes and group foster homes, but there are several reasons why this type of care is not always the best solution. A primary reason is that African communities feel that it is their job to raise these children – and that removing them from their communities is not always in the best interest of the child. As such, communities are looking for ways that children can stay within their circle of support and familiar environs, thus decreasing the impact of loss that HIV/AIDS brings into the children’s lives.
It is from this standpoint that models such as iKhaya le themba are being developed to offer support to families caring for orphans within the community, enabling them to provide for children who are not their own. Our model of care is holistic: we offer a programme to the children and families that is integrated and multi facetted.
Support at iKhaya le themba for the children takes two forms. Firstly, we have a community worker who visits with the families and other services involved with the child. She acts as a link between all parties, ensuring that the interests of the child are best served. Secondly, we provide these children with a safe place to play, learn and grow within an after-school context. This decreases the burden of care on families caring for orphans, and also gives the children access to intensive care services when these are needed.
Through our work, however, we see that children still do not often reach their learning potential. This is due to various reasons, such as:
Our strategy therefore is to:
If we are successful, we expect to see the following outcomes in children:
In the families, we expect to see:
Implementation to date: Programmes for parents and caregivers
In conjunction with our after-care programmes and one-on-one care of children through community workers, who connect children to the appropriate service providers should they need additional support, we also offer support to parents, teachers and other adults looking after children.
A. School-based support
In terms of overcoming the challenge of teachers reported to be losing their tempers or physically punishing the children, we have held workshops with the teachers at a school within the community to equip them with strategies to deal with challenging behavious among children; to share good practice strategies for discipline as opposed to punishment; and to help teachers understand the children’s behaviour and how it can be a barrier to learning.
B. Quarterly skills development workshops
Just as we work with children and schools, parents (or adults acting as caregivers to children in their community) form a third and key group we work with as part of our holistic and multi-facetted programme. Our interactions with parents / adults in the community comprise skills development workshops, namely:
C. Support groups for parents
Some of our original workshops were supplemented by follow-up support groups, where women could share their personal problems and struggles, and come up with their own solutions. These support groups offered them a space to tackle such challenges as finding jobs and places to live, explore living with HIV and the the difficult behaviour of their children who had been raped; death of their husbands and unemployment.
These parents involved in these groups have reported feeling more effective in their parenting skills and being more able to be involved in the education of their children.
Lessons learnt and way forward:
Rather than just offering support to the children themselves, we believe that our added attention in helping parents and caregivers in their support of their children’s development through workshops and support groups has made a significant difference to the children themselves. As we encourage caregivers to take an active role in the development of the children in their care, we see the children take initiative in their own learning.
Our adult workshops and groups, for example, have resulted in changed attitudes towards the children; increased energy levels for being involved in their lives (mainly as a result of the depression support group, and the children and parents camp); as well as an increase in the parents’ confidence to speak and read in English through the literacy group. As a result, parents seem to be more eager to participate in their children’s education, and this support has had a positive impact on the self-esteem of both parents and children alike.
Moving forward and based on our gains so far, we would like to see more holistic programmes such as ours that support children in all areas of their lives. We would like to see communities that value parents as educators and that encourage a culture of being involved in their children’s education from babyhood to adulthood. We would like to influence government policy in the care of orphans and vulnerable children so that there is more funding available for intentional research and the implementation of programmes that support children within their communities, as well as the people who care for them.
Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay
(021) 712 8414
Learn how iKhaya le themba is working with the community to provide a holistic programme of social support and educational development for children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds or affected by HIV/Aids.