Even with anti-retroviral therapy, there are millions of children in South Africa who have lost their parents. Etafeni provides these children with care so that they have the chance to grow into responsible adults who are capable of feeling for others and contributing to society.
A model of how we can do this is being pioneered in Nyanga, a township outside Cape Town, by the Etafeni Trust. A small grassroots community-based organisation, the Etafeni Playgroup Project, formed a trust together with LifeLine/Childline Western Cape in 2001 when it became apparent that children in the Nyanga community were losing their parents to AIDS-related illnesses. Almost 30% of the local population in Nyanga is infected with the HI -Virus.
The aim of the Trust is to build capacity in the local community in Nyanga – as well as operating a multi-purpose day care centre to sustain and support the community in their holistic care for children affected by AIDS.
The site on Sihume Road, sold to the Trust at a nominal price by the City of Cape Town, has had a multi-purpose centre built on it. The Centre is a base to support the caregivers of children who have been affected by AIDS so that the children are able to stay in their homes, at their schools and in their familiar community during their parents’ illness and, if the worst happens, after their parents’ death. The local community around the centre has been trained in HIV/AIDS information and awareness, many of the Etafeni Playgroup Project members have been through the LifeLine and Childline counsellor training.
A group of local unemployed men and women were trained as builders: making blocks, digging the foundations, laying the floor slabs, building, plastering and painting the walls of the centre. They received wages as well as learned a new skill. Most of the builders later found work in the commercial construction sector. The Etafeni Trust employed two of the women builders, Nokhaya and Thandi, at the centre.
The Centre offers a spectrum of services: a preschool, a vegetable garden (for producing food for the centre but also to train community members in food gardening), a nutrition programme, an AIDS Counsellor programme, income-generating activities (beadwork and sewing), supervised homework and afterschool care, the ‘Fit for Life, Fit for Work’ programme for unemployed school leavers, a mobile VCT and TB-screening programme, a playground, counselling and training facilities and space for rest and quiet.
The centre is beautiful but inexpensively built. White-washed walls, lawns, fruit trees and skilled, loving “mothers” create a home from home for children affected by AIDS and their caregivers.