Food and blan­kets give hope as much as sur­vival

The Witness - - NEWS - • This is the sec­ond in a se­ries of ar­ti­cles high­light­ing Than­danani Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion’s Fam­ily Strength­en­ing Project. To read the full se­ries of ar­ti­cles visit www.than­danani.org.za/ fam­ily­strength­en­ing

MA­TE­RIAL well­be­ing is one of four fo­cal ar­eas of the Fam­ily Strength­en­ing Project run by Than­danani Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion, a lo­cal NGO that pro­vides com­mu­nity­based care and sup­port to or­phaned and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.

Bu­sisiwe* was wag­ing a des­per­ate strug­gle for sur­vival on all fronts un­til her house­hold was in­vited to join the Fam­ily Strength­en­ing Project of lo­cal NGO Than­danani Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion.

“Be­fore the field­worker found us, we had no hope. We had my sis­ter’s chil­dren and our chil­dren all liv­ing here in the house …

“Than­danani helped us with food vouch­ers and other things, blan­kets and uni­forms … Now that we have the grant money, there is never a time when the chil­dren in this house go hun­gry.”

Like Bu­sisiwe, the ma­jor­ity of the care­givers of or­phaned and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren who ac­cess the ser­vices of Than­danani’s Fam­ily Strength­en­ing Project are women with lit­tle or no for­mal ed­u­ca­tion and poor prospects of em­ploy­ment.

Some have so few re­sources they are un­able to ob­tain the ba­sic doc­u­men­ta­tion re­quired to ap­ply for the state grants.

Than­danani of­fers a range of ser­vices aimed at ad­dress­ing the ba­sic ma­te­rial needs of the house­holds on its data­base. “Than­danani’s first­phase ser­vices are geared to­wards sta­bil­is­ing the ma­te­rial well­be­ing of house­holds so they are able to meet their own ba­sic needs.

“Af­ter that, the pro­gramme fo­cuses more on strength­en­ing the emo­tional, phys­i­cal, and cog­ni­tive well­be­ing of the fam­ily,” said Than­danani di­rec­tor Dun­can An­drew.

All the fam­i­lies Than­danani works with have at least one or­phaned child liv­ing in the house­hold.

Than­danani’s so­cial work­ers help to for­malise the fos­ter­ing of th­ese chil­dren and se­cure the grants for which they qual­ify.

When a house­hold with­out a suit­able adult care­giver is iden­ti­fied, Than­danani fa­cil­i­tates the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and place­ment of an ap­pro­pri­ate care­giver in that house­hold.

Once placed, Than­danani for­mally pro­cesses a fos­ter care grant ap­pli­ cation and as­sists them to se­cure grants. House­holds are also al­lo­cated a trained field­worker from within their com­mu­nity, who vis­its the fam­ily reg­u­larly.

Where fam­i­lies are liv­ing in con­di­tions that threaten their phys­i­cal well­be­ing Than­danani will pro­vide ba­sic house­hold equip­ment such as stoves, pots and bed­ding to en­sure that house­holds have the ba­sic “tools” nec­es­sary to ad­dress their im­me­di­ate sur­vival needs. If nec­es­sary, the or­gan­i­sa­tion can pro­vide fam­i­lies with short­term re­lief through food vouch­ers or food parcels. Than­danani also as­sists house­holds to es­tab­lish food gar­dens.

Ac­cord­ing to An­drew, in al­most all cases ma­te­rial sup­port has been ac­knowl­edged by par­tic­i­pants as im­por­tant not merely be­cause it en­sures the phys­i­cal sur­vival of fam­ily mem­bers, but be­cause of the “hope” it pro­vides.

“The ma­te­rial goods are a sym­bol of emo­tional sup­port and care … and, as the Than­danani ap­proach recog­nises, this psy­cho­so­cial as­pect is equally im­por­tant to the over­all well­be­ing of our par­tic­i­pants,” he said. * Names have been changed to pro­tect iden­ti­ties.

“The ma­te­rial goods are a sym­bol of emo­tional sup­port and care ... and, as the Than­danani ap­proach recog­nises, this psy­cho­so­cial as­pect is equally im­por­tant to the over­all well­be­ing of our par­tic­i­pants.”

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