Isibindi, which means “courage” in Zulu, aptly describes the young vulnerable boys and girls that the programme seeks to assist. There are already over 150 children on the Isibindi programme which started a month ago in Tafelsig.
The National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) has, together with local organisations established almost 300 Isibindi projects across the country, serving over 100 000 children. The Isibindi model enables poorly resourced communities to develop effective protection services for children.
Members of the local community are recruited and trained to be care workers. They receive one week of training every month for two years and can continue to further their career in care work with the NQF level 4 qualification they receive at the end of the training. These care workers are carefully screened for suitability to work with children according to guidelines stipulated by the Department of Social Development. They are passionate and work tirelessly to look out for children’s best interests, well aware of the important role they play in the community and the lives they impact.
“There is a great need in this community and in the first month we have already come face to face with challenges which include child labour and sodomy,” says Morishia Fortuin, Health Coordinator at Mustadafin Foundation. “Every child deserves to grow up in a place where they feel safe and free. Isibindi carers provide this circle of safety for the most vulnerable children who are otherwise the first victims of various kinds of child abuse.”
Safe Parks, one of the initiatives of the programme, ensures that children in the community can play freely and in safety at parks and public recreational areas. This is particularly important over the school holidays when children are often left without adult supervision while their parents are at work. Some children with little access to nutritious food are now receiving food parcels as part of a feeding scheme.
“This project is not just about keeping children safe and giving them food. It goes much further than that, it provides a holistic approach to help each child develop to their full potential. The care workers are equipped with key skills and become that second set of eyes and ears to watch out for the children’s best interests,” concludes Fortuin.
For more information on Mustadafin Foundation, visit www.mustadafin.org.za. Join their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MustadafinFoundation