Food and blankets give hope as much as survival
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.”