Poverty Still Chains Born Frees

caring_childHalf of South Africa’s population is made up of children, teenagers and young adults born after 1990 – the year that Nelson Mandela was released from prison. This generation is often referred to as the “born-frees”. Yet, despite South Africa’s successful transition to democracy; poverty, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS continue to dominate the lives of millions of South African children and their families.

Children growing up in circumstances characterised by poverty, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS are extremely vulnerable. They often have to care for ill and dying parents and may be traumatised by loss. When their parent dies the family usually loses income and children are often left without adequate care, shelter, food and clothing. They often go hungry, drop out of school, experience emotional and/or behavioural difficulties and sometimes even take to the streets often being forced to beg or become involved in petty crime or sex work just to survive.

Thandanani Children’s Foundation, with its focus on strengthening families caring for orphans and vulnerable children, is working hard to combat the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS in the lives of hundreds of children in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.

Through a network of fieldworkers in local communities, Thandanani identifies indigent families caring for orphans and other vulnerable children and then, through a holistic, structured and time-limited system of support, works to strengthen these families so that they are better able to meet the basic needs of the children in their care.

Thandanani also capacitates community members in the establishment of “Self-help Groups” which, through a self-regulated system of savings and loans, gives participants access to start-up capital to initiate small income generating projects for themselves.

In addition, Thandanani has a team of trained Lay Counsellors who visit communities on a daily basis providing free primary health care services in an effort to educate and support community members in the fight against HIV, TB and other common health concerns.

In this way Thandanani seeks to strengthen families and empower communities to break the cycle of poverty that entraps them and live full and meaningful lives.

As Nelson Mandela said “It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it.” It is in this spirit that Thandanani does what it does.

If you would like to find out more about our work and the impact we have please visit our website – www.thandanani.org.za – after all, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of fundamental human rights. Everyone everywhere has the right to live with dignity, free from fear and oppression, free from hunger and thirst, and free to express themselves and associate at will.” – Nelson Mandela

Some facts & figures on children, poverty & HIV in SA:

  • Having lost one or both of their parents, about 3.24 million children are orphans.
  • 60% of all children in South Africa and 68% of those in KwaZulu-Natal live in poverty.
  • 17% of all children and 25% of those in KwaZulu-Natal live in households where there is child hunger.
  • A third of children aged between 15 and 19 live in households where no one is employed.
  • Unemployment among young males of working age is running at 67%, and among their female equivalents at 75%.
  • People between the ages of 14 and 25 account for 29% of the country’s prison population. Some 45,000 born-frees are in prison at any one time.
  • 30% of all pregnant women in South Africa and 40% of pregnant woman in KwaZulu-Natal are HIV positive.
  • 3% of all children in South Africa and 4.2% of children in KwaZulu-Natal are HIV positive.

* The statistics above are taken from the South African Child Gauge (2012); from the National Antenatal HIV Prevalence Survey (2012) and from The South African Institute Race Relations Report: Born Free but still in Chains 2015