Family Empowerment

The aim of the Family Empowerment project is to work alongside vulnerable families to improve their circumstances in a variety of ways. Assistance on this program could come in the form of healthcare support, educational enrichment or improvement of living conditions. We can identify families struggling in the area through the help of InDuna (the traditional Zulu village chief). Through this we can assess the problems the family may be facing, and with weekly visits and planning we can work towards empowering them to work towards a better life.

Project located in St Lucia, South Africa
Project focused on Empowering Communities

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Some of the families we assist are on the fringes of society, with little or no support from government or private sector services. The families in the program may have problems such as food insecurity, inadequate housing, and lack of access to healthcare. Typically, individuals in the program have difficulty acquiring documents to ensure they receive government services (like ID books and birth certificates), making it impossible for them to receive disability grants or child benefit grants. Many are in need of programs such as reading and writing courses, HIV/AIDS education, and support groups, and the families usually consist of many orphaned children.

Our aim is to empower the families by finding solutions to the unique challenges they are facing. We set short-term and long-term goals for each family to work towards. These goals could include getting the children registered for birth certificates and enrolled into school.

Through THAF we can give them positive encouragement and the support they need to make steps to become self-sustaining. With THAF donations we can provide them will the tools and resources to make changes to their own lives.

Our current families include:
‘Gogo 4’: Gogo 4 lives in Ezwenalisha, affectionately nicknamed Gogo 4, as when we first began working with Gogo she cared for four children. Being in her nineties I’m sure we can all agree this is admiral, but on a recent visit to Gogo we discovered she now cares for fifteen children. The children range in age from 2 – 17 years old. Due to the living situation many children were under nourished, unable to go to school and in need of some medical treatment.

Emma’s Family’: Emma lives in Khula and started as one of our home based care patients in 2013 as she was struggling with diabetes and finding it hard to keep her blood sugar levels steady. Living with just her father and two siblings we visited her most weeks, and were able to find a blood glucose machine that she could keep as her own. Emma’s father tragically died in an accident at work, leaving the three children orphaned. The children’s older half-sister Gugu (22 years) moved back to take care of the children.

The Khumalo’s: This family is the newest addition to the Family Empowerment Project. The mother of the family, Khanisile, has been a member of our medical program for some time and her family was identified as a family we could work with. She suffers from motor neurone disease making her wheelchair bound. Her 16 year old daughter who is still completing primary school is her full time carer which means that her school work sometimes suffers and she becomes fatigued. The family also struggle to find food and water. Khanisile has two sons we well, (20 and 25). We are working towards helping these men create future goals, working on CV’s and furthering job opportunities.

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We have seen life changing sustainable improvements in the families we are assisting. These include:

• Support with applying for the correct government documentation, in order to be able to enroll children into school.

• Putting children on nutrition plans, allowing us to monitor under nourished children and assist with Nutri-shakes and E-Pap.

• Supplied children with uniforms in order for them to start school.
• Built beds, and donated mattresses.

• Created a garden and donated seedlings, educating them on how to grow and sustain a garden and have access to nutritional foods.

• Constructed a safe and hygienic toilet

• Supplied JoJo tanks to collect safe drinking water.

• Provided basic English lessons to one particular older sibling who has now secured herself a job!

• Built a brand new garden for the Khumalos

• Helped with CV building and furthering job opportunities

• Provided home assistance to wheel chair bound family members

• Collected medication and provided clinic assistance

• Provided educational support in exam periods

We will continue to:

• Provide weekly educational support to help children with school work due to their late admission.

• Collect water in the dry season, preventing children walking huge distances after school.

• Create nutrition plans for particular children.

• Provide clinic drop-offs and medical support when necessary.

KwaZulu-Natal
The province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on the east coast of South Africa and borders the countries of Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. As its name suggests, it is the birthplace of the proud Zulu nation. Still ruled by the Zulu royal family, the rural areas of KZN maintain a very traditional way of life. Sadly, the population of KwaZulu-Natal has been devastated by the effects of poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A staggering 40.2% of people in the province are estimated to be infected with HIV, and about 10% of these have full-blown AIDS.

The Happy Africa Foundation has two projects in KZN; one in the coastal town of St. Lucia and one in the rural district of Umkhanyakude, in and around Thanda Game Reserve.

Khula Village
Khula Village, situated just five kilometres outside of the coastal town of St. Lucia in KZN, is home to more than 13 000 people. Many of the villagers are either farm workers, employed in the local town of St. Lucia or work on government programmes. Although still a fairly new settlement, this ever-developing village has a clinic, a primary school, a high school, various créches and many community buildings and shops. Building renovations are carried out constantl, which gives true meaning to Khula”s IsiZulu name, which means ‘growing’.

According to local non-governmental organisations, an estimated 60-80% of Khula’s population is infected with HIV.

Ezwenelisha
Ezwenelisha Village is set in the beautiful rural landscape of the East Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, about 10 kilometres outside of St. Lucia. A genuinely traditional, rural village in the heart of Zululand, Ezwenelisha is home to a warm and welcoming people and itsname means ‘a new world’ in isiZulu.

The rural layout of the village means that residents’ homes are located far from the community’s clinic, schools and shops. Many houses are built by the government and are fair-sized concrete structures that provide good shelter. However, travelling is difficult because of a lack of reliable public transport, and as a result many people aren’t able to secure jobs in the nearby town of St. Lucia. The overwhelming majority of Ezwenelisha’s households do not have running water and people still have to walk to the nearest river or pond to gather water for drinking and cooking.

The majority of Ezwenelisha’s inhabitants work in the nearby sugarcane and pulp and paper industries. The community’s proximity to various agricultural industries means that it is both home to and frequented by migrant workers. Unfortunately, this makes the area particularly susceptible to high HIV/AIDS rates. Like Khula, it is believed that approximately 70-80% of the community’s population is infected with the virus.

Achieved So Far:
In 2015, we had our first graduates of the Empower a Family Programme.

After helping a small family secure governmental documents, enroll in school, start a vegetable garden and begin improving their lives, they were successfully able to move to a new village, and enroll their children into a new school. This success is what the Empower a Family project stands for and we are so proud of them.

Therefore we are now in the process of assessing new families for our project.

Maise and spinach have been planted at Gogo 4’s garden. Our volunteers are providing home-based care for this family as the daughter has just had a baby via C-section.

We have raised money for a wheelchair for the Khumalos and also built a garden.

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