A Fresh Start for Cape Town's Next Generation
TPRF Funds Food Security Program in Mfuleni Township
With food to ease their hunger and social and educational programs to lift them out of the cycle of poverty, schoolchildren in Cape Town's Mfuleni Township can look forward to a brighter future. That's the simple but effective philosophy of Afrika Tikkun (AT), a nonprofit that has been helping families secure their long-term nutritional needs since 1994. A $10,000 grant from TPRF is providing nutritional support for one year to 55 elementary and high-school students in AT's Food Security Program.
"The Afrika Tikkun project demonstrates in a practical and sustainable manner what can be done with limited resources, great commitment and passion," says former South African President Nelson Mandela, the nonprofit's patron-in-chief. "The challenge to reach all the disadvantaged people of South Africa remains a paramount one… Afrika Tikkun has proven that it has the ability to reach sections of our disadvantaged population at grassroots level. It therefore provides physical help, as well as giving hope and dignity to the recipients."
Resettlement communities such as Mfuleni Township still suffer from the lingering effects of apartheid. Many resident families struggle to maintain health and dignity on less than $140 a month. They live in low-cost housing or makeshift shacks with no electricity and limited access to communal taps and toilets. Disease, especially HIV/AIDS, is rife. In families where the adults are infected, schoolchildren must step in as heads of households, caring for younger siblings as well as incapacitated adults.
"Recent increases in the prices of basic food items has threatened to push many more families beyond their ability to meet their basic needs for food," says Romy Saitowitz, AT's development executive. "Between June and December 2010, the cost of maize meal increased by 21%."
AT's Holistic Circle of Care model begins with nutritious meals prepared daily on-site for the neediest children enrolled in its Child and Youth Development programs, held after school in AT's community center in Mfuleni. These meals include fresh vegetables grown in gardens tended by program beneficiaries.
"In addition," Saitowitz says, "all children participating in our Child and Youth Development program are given sandwiches, fruit and juice before commencing their after-school activities."
Patients with TB and HIV/AIDS who are cared for through AT's Primary Healthcare program get weekend parcels of food and nutritional supplements.
Once these immediate needs have been addressed, AT staff and volunteers help beneficiaries construct a family development plan tailored to their unique needs. These plans might include training in backyard gardening, assistance in gaining access to government social welfare grants, enrolling children in schools, caring for ill parents or family members through AT's Primary Healthcare program, and enrolling unemployed family members in the nonprofit's skills development programs.
At the core of the Holistic Circle of Care model, Saitowitz says, "is the imperative to mitigate the impact of poverty and the breakdown of families on the children in disadvantaged communities, and to properly support their growth into healthy, productive, and responsible citizens."
photo credits: Afrika Tikkun