Nhlakodise drop-in centre was set up in an area of high levels of unemployment and where escalating levels of HIV and AIDS were leaving many children with no-one to look after, or provide for, them.
When we first met Tebogo, 15, (pictured above) he was severely asthmatic, caused by sleeping rough through the bitterly cold winters of this part of South Africa. He was also tortured by the thought that although his parents were alive they had deserted them. He talked of going to sleep hungry every day, collapsing at school and each day getting thinner until there were some days when he considered suicide.
Tebogo and his brother were just two of more than seventy orphans and vulnerable children who found parents at the drop-in centre. They received school uniforms, nutritious food and groceries on a monthly basis. Their school teachers saw big improvements in their learning and the school nurse monitored Tebogo's health.
In a partnership between World Vision, the South African government and a charitable trust, 72 children were cared for by a staff of 50. They learnt skills and the centre's garden provided three nutritious meals daily (with the surplus sold at the market).
The centre was also used by a group of people living with HIV and AIDS who learnt tailoring skills. This project not only restored their dignity as providers for their families and provided emotional support, but also helped to reduce unemployment in the area.
As the project came to a close, Tebogo illustrates the real difference that one project can make, as he holds his high school certificate:
"I did not think I’d live to see this day. My life has been full of pain and suffering. I know for many perhaps a matric certificate is not a big deal, but for me it means so much”.
Generous gifts made in Wills from the UK not only provided the start-up capital for this community venture, but also provided resources including a water tank for the garden and training for the centre’s staff.