Reachout To Africa is a Christian registered Canadian charity, humanitarian organization dedicated to providing financial and logistical aid to communities and vulnerable children of Southern Africa.
We work closely with various organizations who have many, many years of experience working in various countries in Africa. These organizations are involved with local grass root community resilience building and educational and development projects. They do this together with NGO's, Faith based organizations (FBO) Churches, Educational and Government organizations.
Mpumalanga's population is about 3 million. The province’s demography is composed of more of the former homelands than any other province in South Africa, so it tends to be fragmented. The social alienation that is the legacy of apartheid is thus sensed acutely by Mpumalanga's children. Transport corridors like the Maputo Corridor are known to be more devastated by HIV/AIDS than most areas.
There is rampant unemployment and crime in the townships surrounding Nelspruit and young people are the major victims of HIV/AIDS and poverty. SA’s constitution states that everyone has a right to a basic education. This means that all children between the ages of 7 and 15, or in grades 1 to 9, must go to school. Good quality education is essential to provide the foundation for lifelong learning and the framework for human development. In order to encourage vulnerable children to stay in school, we need to equip teachers and others in the community with a greater awareness of what these children are facing. Primarily we need to address the stigma and the accompanying irrational fear that is still associated with HIV/AIDS.
Once teachers, caregivers and youth volunteers are mobilized, what they learn will perpetuate itself. The communities will never be the same again – and this bodes well for the vulnerable children. After 3 years, these schools and their communities will be saturated with what they need to know.
There are presently 7 Hope Clubs which are run at local schools in Daantjie and Msogwaba, for orphans and vulnerable children. The youth who run the clubs volunteer their time once or twice a week, depending on the school, to train the children soccer skills, provide counseling and run activities and games.
Another Hope Club was started by one of our youth leaders at Pholani Primary School in Daantjie. Abednigo is a youth head of household and supports himself and his brother on the stipend he earns from running his club. He presently lives at the Litsemba Centre and also assists with maintenance.
The counselors do home visits monthly to the homes of the children attending the clubs to identify problems, establish trusting friendships and get to know the circumstances under which these children live. A Hope Club runs at Lugebhuta High School in Schoemansdal with Dan'sile and Senzo as the full time Youth Facilitators. Each school creates its Hope Club according to the needs and ages of the learners, so no two clubs are alike.
Townships often do not have a place where youth can drop in and have a place to hang out. At least, there are not many places where they can do this safely! The Litsemba Centre is just such a place, where youth and children can go to find training in skills, guidance, a teenage pregnancy crisis centre, and general support.
As part of the mandate of the Litsemba Centre, our staff is running bible studies for children, youth and community members. In the past, local merchants and vegetable sellers joined the studies, bringing together the people in the community to learn about scripture and pray together. These studies are supported by two our pastoral team, Pastor Sthembiso & his wife, Pastor Thuli from Mamkhulu.org.
Bible studies are based on the home church model, with youth encouraged to invest in their own personal spiritual growth and start their own bible studies in their homes. These bible studies each week are places where youth are being challenged to grow in their understanding and faith in God. They are non-denominational and open to anyone who wants to attend.
Most orphans struggle in school as they have no parents at home to help them with their homework or encourage them to work on projects. In fact, a bigger problem is that children who do not have parents at home have extra work to do and homework takes a back seat to the work. Children in child headed households or in households with a sick adult who they have to care for, spend most of their out of school washing, cooking, finding food for the household, cleaning or selling tomatoes on the street to earn money for the house. Children and youth who come to the centre each day receive homework support and help. In this way, they can be assisted to stay in school and staying in school is the key to their futures. A homework support programme has started for orphans at Siyakhula Primary School, which is close to the centre. Bonginhlanhla High School has also started a homework support programme. Youth workers from the centre go to the schools after school to work with the children before they go home.
Life Skills Training
The Litsemba Centre offers courses for youth on how to open bank accounts, budget money, look for work, write CVs, care for younger siblings, choose a career, etc. It also works with youth leaders to help them start Hope Clubs in local schools around the centre.
President's Awards Program
This program has 3 levels for leadership development - bronze, silver and gold. There are 45 youth from around the Litsemba Centre, including many of our out of school youth, who have to do 24 hours of service, 24 hours of sports and 24 hours of skills development as well as go on an adventure camp for 3 days. The President's Award Programme is providing the structure and some of the opportunities for the youth, and have applied for carpentry equipment from some donors. Each youth who takes part in the programme gets involved in some sort of service in the community, including volunteering at our OVC camps, cleaning up around the disabled centre at the back of the Litsemba Centre and at some of the Home Based Care facilities in the area. In January they will be visiting Barberton Prison to assist with a gardening project.
As a result of previous visits to Southern Africa by Canadian volunteers, a need was identified for individual sponsorship support to be secured for young adult youth leaders who wish to continue their education into college diplomas and/or university degrees. Given the reality of the severe brain drain Africa and particularly Southern Africa is experiencing, a number of Canadians expressed a desire to financially support these individuals.
Reachout To Africa has responded by setting up a system of administration to facilitate the transfer of regular financial support to these recipients. All funds contributed are assigned to Individual recipients for expenses related to their cost of education (school fees), clothing, school supplies, and nutrition.
This is the most important need. Constant and consistent prayer is the foundation on which Reachout To Africa is built. The leadership and training programs and activities of the staff of our partner organizations in Southern Africa involves constant contact with individuals living in a stressful environment. The uncertainty of their daily lives requires special skills and sensitive ears. Please pray for our leaders and staff in Southern Africa.
To maintain and grow the existing ministry will require a special focus on developing a broad support base of individuals, corporate and governmental donors. Donations can be made to Reachout To Africa. If you are able to financially support and wish to make a contribution to our programs please donate Here.
If you are interested in volunteering at our programs in Southern Africa or here in North America or leading any of its regional programs please contact Nicholas Short at firstname.lastname@example.org.