One of the many projects run by Baphumelele is supporting “child-headed homes” in the township.
Through its long standing projects serving the local community including the children’s home and the respite centre, Baphumelele has witnessed the continued impact of HIV/AIDS on families in Khayelitsha. Some of the most vulnerable children have been affected by the ongoing pandemic – in many instances, these children have lost their parents and are now isolated and living alone within the community. It is estimated that there are around 7,000 orphans living in Khayelitsha and the surrounding areas.
Children in affected households have reduced opportunities for growth and development and increased vulnerability to disease and destitution. They live in poor housing, often in fear and at threat of abuse and harm through lack of security and lack of responsible adults. Many are required to care for their sick and dying parents and now have to deal with the emotional trauma after their deaths. Caring for themselves as well as their younger siblings takes its toll not only on their emotional well-being and health but also on their ability to attend school regularly. Left without parents, there is no regular income and therefore no means to look after themselves.
Tightly packed tin shacks – no wonder fires rage through so quickly.
The child-headed homes project aims to support these children through mentorship and direct intervention. By keeping the siblings together in a community that they know, they are then able to stabilize and to develop together as a family. Support is prioritized into five key areas – food parcels, education & work experience, emotional & pyscho-social support, healthcare and finally legal assistance – all with the aim of rebuilding these young children’s lives and enabling them to go forward together as a strong family unit.
Coordinated by the social worker and supported by members of the office team, 12 families have been supported over the last 3 years. Assessments are currently taking place to expand the project to 25 families. Financial support for this project has always been hard to come by, and we rely on the fantastic support the public and fundraising events to provide the monthly food parcels. These contain basic food supplies for the month to enable the heads of household to focus on their education or work experience.
Regular updates catch-ups are held with the heads of the house to check on the progress of their education and financial status etc.
Washing bowl hanging alongside best clothes for Church.
Today’s visit was to a decrepit tin shack in Khayeltisha so hot it resembled a sauna, to pass on the soul destroying news hat her education sponsor is no longer able to pay her schooling fees for her last year of Matric. The occupant was busy doing her washing in a large bowl whilst the baby was asleep on the faded, stained sheets covering a wafer thin mattress. With no refrigeration it’s incredible that any food can be kept here at all. The vegetable basket showed shrivelled onions and wilted spinach ready to go in the pots of boiling water, which were filled from the communal tap down the road, bubbling on the stove.
Communal taps, communal toilets; an astounding lack of space.
This 2x4metre structure contains the bare minimum in which to support life. It’s absurdly high temperatures in the summer are almost as torturous as the ice cold winters or damp, leaking rainy seasons.
Having said all of this, it is a home and it is better than being on the streets. Thanks to the child-headed homes projects more and more roves are covering young heads and lives are being transformed.