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The Isibindi Programs – a circle of care and a great inspiration.

I have been busy since the last update of the blog, very busy. It feels a bit as if I have obtained the same amount of information in one week, as I would usually be able to receive in one month. So obviously, I’ve been busy in a good way.
Since last time I updated the blog, I’ve visited HOKISA (Homes for Kids in South Africa), Cotlands, Philani, NACCW (National Association of Child Care Workers) and James House. The experiences at the organisations have been very different, but all giving in one way or another.

But first of all it has given me a much better idea of how NDA’s work in South Africa can actually be implemented in practice. To this I owe Sandra Oosthuizen at NACCW a big thank you, as her introduction of the Isibindi Programme has inspired me a lot.
The Isibindi Model responds holistically to the needs of children, youth and families who are vulnerable and at-risk. They focus primarily on children and families infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Unemployed community members are screened, selected, trained and deployed as child and youth care workers servicing families in their own communities. The NACCW therefore also help in the creation of jobs and the development of the local community. But the ultimate beneficiaries of all Isibindi projects are desperate children and families who would not otherwise have had access to formal care and assistance.

As NACCW explains it themselves the Isibindi programme works as a ‘social franchise’ basis with the NACCW entering into formal partnerships with implementing partner organisations.
This means that the NACCW partners with already established NGOs in South Africa who believe that the Isibindi model can help them in some areas of their own work. NACCW then provides the model, funding and expertise, but also monitor and supervise the development of the Isibindi program within the NGO. But an essential issue is that they leave it up to the local NGO to implement the program in the community. This is of great value, as the community based NGO already has the local knowledge and support of the community.
The programme is now implemented in over 55 sites in 8 provinces and by over 40 partner organizations.

I am very inspired about this approach – as it could be a way to implement my own work. I have therefore set up a meeting with LoveLife, an NGO that focus primarily on children, youth and HIV and AIDS related issues. Together with LoveLife or a similar organisation, I believe that it would be possible to develop a model for the empowerment and support of young girls and women, who head childheaded households and are in desperate need of moral and financial support. These girls and their siblings are extremely vulnerable, as they live without the protection of an adult. The need to earn a living to provide the family with food can push the girls into risky behaviour as prostitution, which leaves them vulnerable to a higher risk of HIV infection and pregnancy.
But as Sandra told me, it is not education about safesex and risky behaviour that these girls need, they already know this, because of life skills education at school and various campaigns in the Western Cape urban areas. What they need is counseling to deal with the death of their parents and the enormous responsibility that their parents death have left on their shoulders. They need to be given a hope of a better future, where they have rights as human beings and as women. And they need to be given and believe in alternative options to an otherwise hopeless future.

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