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After School Clubs
Since April 2015, Za Foundation has funded three After School Clubs for orphan and vulnerable children in the Nkomazi region: at Thembalethu in Schoemansdal, in Buffelspruit and in Jeppes Reef. These clubs were threatened with closure as previous funding was coming to an end. The money raised during the Zakhele 2015 tour has enabled us to guarantee funding for a further twelve months and we are actively seeking to continue this work in the future, funding permitted (see Funding below).
The names of orphan and vulnerable children (OVCs) are put forward by teachers in local schools who feel that the children would benefit from the activities provided by the clubs’ facilitators and regular meals.
Before Za Foundation took over the funding
OVCs would take part in free-play or engage in one of the following: traditional dance, singing or some help with their homework. They received a meal containing chicken (only feet) twice a week with millie meal most nights, very occasional pieces of carrots and some cooked dry beans and onion.
Since being funded by Za
Once the OVCs arrive, they are registered immediately, a responsibility given to the older OVCs. They are then entered into a programme of activities which is co-planned by facilitators and children and includes the following:
Drawing / colouring
Reading in the library / attending an event in the library or a visit from the mobile library
Fun games e.g. Twister
Singing, dancing and acting
Help with homework
1:1 Counselling sessions with the social worker
An ‘ideas’ boxes has been introduced for the OVCs to put in their own suggestions for additional alternative activities and we have plans to use the surrounding gardens for food to be grown during the cooler months. This will not only supplement the fresh vegetables for their meals but will also teach the children how to grow their own food.
Soon to be introduced:
Educational Maths Games
Educational English Games
Following the appointment of our social worker, each child is assessed to determine any emotional support they may require and any emergency assistance with regards to their food, medical care (ARV’s), housing or education.
Each member of the team now acts as ‘ears’. Children often discuss problems during an activity so the team are aware they will listen, assist or refer the child depending on the challenges the child faces.
Counselling peer sessions – topic driven group sessions, facilitated by the social worker
Buddying of older and younger OVC’s
An English teacher from one of the local schools is going to arrange for a report folder to be put in their classroom with a list of names of children that attend the After School Club (ASC) from their school. Any difficulties or beneficial changes that they see in the student will be noted down. Any comments they hear about the ASC will be noted. This will provide independent and objective feedback.
10 OVCs in each of the three clubs have been given an exercise book to use as a diary. Each day these 30 children will either record something or draw something about their day. This exercise allows children to express, in an non-challenging way, some of things they are struggling with in life as an orphan. At the end of the week a member of the team (facilitator, zone leader, social worker or Zakhele member) will sit with the child and ask them about each day. Problems are often expressed, if not in writing then in drawings. The team are then able to assist the children with the problem or refer to the social worker.
The meal the OVC receives has been enhanced enormously. They now have a balanced meal including protein, vitamins and carbohydrates EVERY day. The meals are far more nutritious. Chicken feet have gone and wings / breast brought in. Raw vegetables are used in coleslaw, beetroot has been introduced as has rice, cabbage, eggs and some cheese.
In addition, cooks also talk to the children about the importance of eating healthily.
Within a matter of weeks, the team of facilitators was reporting how the children had started to look healthier. They are happier, they love the food and the number of activities on offer. The older OVCs are taking on more challenges and responsibilities in helping younger OVCs, helping to prepare the food with the cooks and engaging in some very impressive debating competitions between clubs.
Feedback has been very encouraging: according to one of our leaders, she’d had a visit from the mother of one of our vulnerable children saying for the first time ever, her daughter was asking if she could do the cooking at home!
Staff involved in the ASC projects have told us how motivated they feel as a result of the changes: their jobs have become more interesting as the scope of what they can do with the OVCs has become wider. Even down to the cooks who get to plan different menus every week, which makes the choice for the children less predictable and more interesting for them to cook.
In order to continue this work into 2017, we need to raise more funds. If you would like to support the work in the ASCs or any other of our projects in South Africa, click on DONATE NOW on our home page or complete a standing order mandate which can be found here.
You could also ‘sponsor a child’ by making a regular donation which will be used to support all children in all our After School Clubs. To download further information and a sponsorship form, click here.