Health-e News Service - February 23, 2012
Serving breakfast and lunch daily to children from a number of
primary and high schools surrounding Tsogang Setjhaba in
Chiawelo, Soweto, goes a long way to alleviate their hunger. For
some of the children, lunch will be their last meal for the day.
Every day before and after school, tens of children rush for
something to eat at Mama Tony's house in Chiawelo 3, Soweto, the
base for Tsogang Setjhaba, a non-governmental organisation
working with orphaned and vulnerable children. Some of them have
been orphaned by AIDS. For many, the afternoon meal that they get
here will be their last for the day. That is true for 14 year-old
Thuku, a young guy of very few words, who is also lining up for a
plate of food.
Thuku says: "I come here to eat every afternoon at two o'clock. I
don't have supper at home. I stay with my unemployed mother and
Joyce Mosuwe is one of the staff members who prepares and serves
breakfast and lunch for these children at Tsogang Setjhaba. But
their work extends from providing food to taking care of the
social problems that some of the children encounter.
"We also help them with their home-work and, then, we do home
visits. We also check the children who have problems and then we
go to their parents and we tell them about the child's problem
and we help the children with the problem they have together with
their parents. We can identify a child when the child is not
okay... maybe those who have been abused sexually, mentally,
spiritually. Some of the parents don't take care of their
children, they are too ignorant", Mosuwe says.
Many of the children, ranging from infants to 18 year-olds and,
sometimes, 21 year-olds, come from poverty-stricken backgrounds.
"Most of them are from informal settlements, Chiawelo Extension
1, 2, 3, 4, Police View and Protea North, and surrounding areas.
You find their parents are there, but there's no one who is
working at home. We need to assist them with school uniforms,
weekend wear, we provide food parcels once a month and we take
them out for trips", says Mama Tony, founding director of Tsogang
Mama Tony adds that HIV has also affected the children.
"Some are living with HIV. Some have challenges at home - they
are child-headed, meaning, you find they are five and the one is
taking care of the five siblings or six".
Those infected have allies at the centre, particularly in people
like care-giver, Joyce Mosuwe.
"I always make an example of myself, living with HIV for the past
15 years. I talk with the parents and they have accepted. They
take care of the children.
I always make sure that they should support their children. They
shouldn't say: "I don't have money. My child was supposed to go
to the doctor for check-up or for the repeats". I told them that:
"If you don't have anything", they should "come to us here at
Tsogang Setjhaba so that you should not default", says Mosuwe.
The centre opened in 1999 and, according to Mama Tony, it's
helping over 1 000 orphaned and vulnerable children to date.
"I'm working with six primary schools and four high schools.
Tsogang Setjhaba has built a good relationship with the schools.
If ever the principals or the educators are
encountering problems with one of the learners, they will call us
or they will tell us that we are going to refer a family to you,
they've got a challenge regarding meals or they are vulnerable.
Then, we'll take it from there. We've got three auxiliary social
workers that identify the children at school or at home. They do
door-to-door so that they identify those cases. We do assist with
meals, groceries, bereavement counseling, family counseling", she
Tsogang Setjhaba also helps with the children's developmental
needs and provides computer classes, skills in HIV and pregnancy
prevention and assists the children acquire birth certificates
and social grants in the event of their parents' deaths. But it's
getting increasingly difficult to do this work as funders are
rationing or pulling out their support.
"Social Development is funding us for only 300 children. We have
to fend for ourselves for these 740-something children", says